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nf the 

BSntlJcrsttg of Slorontn 

Dr. Worman 3. Shenstone 

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University of Toronto 

Echoes of the Past 

In Camp and Cabin 


€f)e %akt^iht €ia^^it^ 

Echoes of the Past 
About CaHfornia 

By General John Bidwell 

In Camp and Cabin 

By Rev, John Steele 


MiLO Milton Quaife 



R. R. Donnelley & Sons Co. 
Christmas, 1928 

puhU^\)n^' pvttact 

WITH the present volume we start, 
in a manner, a new series of The 
Lakeside Classics. The Fates, per- 
sonified by Expectancy and Appreciation on 
the part of the readers, and Pride on our part, 
have decreed that these annual volumes shall 
continue, and we gracefully bow to the in- 

In continuing, we have decided to make no 
material change in their size or format. To 
change the size and character of each year's 
volume, in order that we might present to 
our readers the very latest fashion of the 
printed book, is not the purpose of these vol- 
umes. Such examples would be of momentary 
interest and would perhaps make a record of 
the changes of fashion in good bookmaking. 
But such books are often unhandy to read, 
inconvenient on the book shelf, and would 
show in their formats no common relationship. 
The original purpose of these volumes was 
to present a well made, practical book, free 
from eccentricities and we still cling to the 
old-fashioned idea that books worth reading 
should be handy to hold, and companions 

|9ubli^f)er^' preface 

that are easy to carry with us. Yet the art 
of bookmaking has advanced during these 
twenty-five years, and as buildings which 
have been added to from time to time show 
in their additions certain changes and refine- 
ments which mark their date, and which not 
only do not mar their beauty but rather add 
charm to the whole, so the publishers have 
recognized the change of taste in bookmak- 
ing and have made a few changes in detail 
which they believe somewhat improve the 
volumes, but which will not take away in any 
degree their individuality. 

The Caslon Old Style has been substituted 
in the body type for the plainer Old Style. The 
type founder, Caslon, cut these types during 
the middle of the eighteenth century, and for 
readability and dignity they have never been 
excelled. During the last century these rugged 
and chaste faces were submerged by the 
fashion for the so-called "modern" types, 
and their beauty was not again recognized 
and their use did not again become general 
until the beginning of the present century. 
The Caslon Old Style has been chosen rather 
than one of the faces recently designed and 
inspired by some of the old masters, because, 
upon the whole, it seems to accomplish bet- 
ter one of the purposes of this book — an 
easily read page. 


^ufili^ftet^' preface 

The double rules used both above and be- 
low the running heads in the previous vol- 
umes have now been omitted. We have felt 
for some time that these rules rather over- 
weighed the page and that their omission 
would make the page more pleasing. The 
black letter used in these headings has been 
retained. The origin of this face is in doubt. It 
was first introduced into America by John 
Wilson senior, of John Wilson & Sons, Bos- 
ton, who imported these fonts from England. 
They appeared in the first Caslon broadsides, 
dated 1834, but it is still undecided whether 
Caslon originated these fonts or copied them 
from one of the Dutch type founders. This 
face has been retained because it is not only 
a distinctive feature of these books, but 
because the face has been a tradition with 
the Press for over half a century. Ever since 
the adoption of the name in 1871, the words 
"The Lakeside Press" have always appeared 
on title pages and imprints in this "Priory 

The change in the color of the binding may 
invoke more criticism. The dark green cloth 
heretofore used has been eminently satisfac- 
tory, and the change in color has been made 
not to improve the appearance, but in a 
manner to mark off the series of the first 
twenty-five volumes which was completed 


^ubli^l^er^' preface 

last year. These twenty-five volumes have 
made a series of books distinct in the annals 
of publishing, and by changing the color of 
the cloth, we feel they have been given a 
definition that a continuous use of the same 
cloth would not give. 

To promise that the next quarter of a cen- 
tury will see completed another series of 
twenty-five volumes is a commitment the 
publishers are loath to undertake. Certainly 
during the period there will be many changes 
in the personnel of the management of the 
Press and many names on the list of recipi- 
ents will be erased by the Inevitable Hand, 
but if the traditions of any press in America 
will continue for this length of time, we believe 
those of The Lakeside Press will. Its appren- 
ticeship system, the careful selection of new 
employees, the open door for promotion and 
responsibility to all who show character and 
capacity, and the esprit de corps of the entire 
organization of over 3,000 employees hold as 
great a promise of continuation of tradition 
as any commercial organization can. 

The question of subject matter becomes 
more difficult each year. The popularity of 
these volumes and the list of readers are 
constantly increasing and this has inspired 
some of the commercial publishers to hunt 
up unpublished journals and rare books of 


^uBIi^ftet^' preface 

historical interest for publication. This indi- 
rect compliment has proved somewhat of an 
embarrassm^ent in putting upon the market 
books that would have been suitable for 
these series. We can promise no continuity 
of subject matter, either as to time or place. 
Our only object will be to continue to at- 
tempt to find an historical subject of human 
interest, which because it has not been pre- 
viously published or because of its rarity will 
come fresh to the average reader. 

It is natural that after publishing Manley's 
account of his trip to California during the 
gold rush, we should turn to a story of the 
Forty-Niners. Unfortunately, no one journal 
has been found which gives a complete pic- 
ture of that stirring life. We would refer those 
readers who desire such a picture to the writ- 
ings of Bret Harte and Stewart Edward 
White. In the ** Echoes of the Past" by Bid- 
well (a man who became a substantial citizen 
of California in after years) and **In Camp 
and Cabin" by Steele, we hope the reader 
will find material that will give some interest- 
ing episodes of the trials and experiences of 
the gold hunter and will stir his interest to 
further reading of that period. 

We are fortunate that Mr. Milo M. Quaife 
has agreed to continue as editor of these vol- 
umes, and because of his wide knowledge of 


^ufili^ftcr^' preface 

the literature of our early western history, 
and of his scholarly editing of these narratives 
we owe to Mr. Quaife a great debt. 

It is our hope that these volumes will con- 
tinue to be acceptable to the friends and 
patrons of the Press. 

The Publishers 

Christmas, 1928. 



Historical Introduction xv 


I — Early Pioneering 5 

2 — Across the Plains 13 

3 — California in the Forties 66 

4 — The Discovery of Gold 95 


Author's Introduction to Original 

Edition 117 

I — I Become a Gold Miner 119 

2 — Further Mining Adventures .... 138 

3 — Expedition to Feather River .... 149 

4 — The Return from Feather River 174 

5 — Removal to American River .... 203 

6 — A New Partnership 222 

7 — An Excursion to Los Angeles . . . 236 

8 — Spanish Flat and Texas Bar .... 259 

9 — A Native Tragedy 286 

10 — Indian Government and Customs 305 

II — Return to Wisconsin 323 

Index 359 


Historical Introduction 

i^tsitortcal 3ItTtt:oDuct(Dn 

IN the preceding volume of The Lakeside 
Classics attention was turned to the 
California gold rush of 1849, and to the 
overland journey of William L. Manly. In 
the volume now presented to the reader we 
return to the same general field with recitals 
of the experiences of two other migrants from 
the Middle West to California, John Bidwell 
and John Steele. 

John Bidwell was a native of New York, 
being born in Chautauqua County on August 
5, 1 819. When he was ten years of age his 
parents removed to Erie County, Pennsyl- 
vania, and two years later to Ashtabula 
County, Ohio. Here and in Darke County 
(whither they subsequently removed) the 
boy grew to manhood, and from Ohio at the 
age of twenty years he set out, as his narra- 
tive records, on a career of western adven- 
ture and sojourn which was to continue to 
the end of his life. After visiting Iowa Terri- 
tory and locating for a short time in the 
Platte Purchase of northwestern Missouri, 
he became in 1840-41 a leader of the first 
real overland party of American settlers to 


I^i-eftorical S^ntrotJuction 

enter California — "the advance guard of 
the irresistible march of the American people 

It affords interesting food for present-day- 
reflection that despite ample time for prepa- 
ration and acquiring of information, no one 
knew the way from Missouri to California, 
nor did any of the party who persevered in 
the journey realize the fact when they had 
arrived there. The California to which Bid- 
well came was the California of the old regime 
— of mission stations and padres and Arca- 
dian simplicity of life. The newcomer was 
one of the best examples of the new Ameri- 
can society which was shortly to displace 
all this. A man of both physical and intel- 
lectual vigor, who early assumed a prom- 
inent part in affairs, Bidwell's residence in 
California from 1841 on qualified him to 
describe with first-hand authority the con- 
ditions which the later Argonauts were to 
encounter. His narrative was not written 
until almost half a century after the period 
it deals with, and the thoughtful reader will 
take proper cognizance of this fact. Yet 
seldom does an abler chronicler assume the 
task of describing events in which he has 
borne a part, and as a source of information 

^Theodore H. Hittell, History of California (San 
Francisco, 1885) III, 331. 


i^i^totical S^ntrobuctxan 

upon the California of the forties its value 
is undoubted. 

Bidwell lived until the fourth of April, 
1900, and during almost sixty years he was 
one of California's foremost citizens. He 
bore an active part in Fremont's Bear Flag 
revolt of 1846 and in the subsequent Amer- 
ican conquest of California. In 1849 he pur- 
chased Rancho Chico, a domain of some 
22,000 acres of land in modern Butte County 
which had been granted to William Dickey 
by the Mexican authorities in 1844. Here he 
made his home throughout the remainder of 
his life, developing and administering his 
splendid estate. The ranch fronted four 
miles on the Sacramento River and extended 
to the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, a dis- 
tance of fifteen miles. Within its limits are 
some of the most fertile and beautiful valley 
lands that can be found, and Bidwell pos- 
sessed both the means and the taste to de- 
velop their possibilities to the utmost. The 
estate was in itself a large community, hav- 
ing, when organized, no less than twenty 
subdivisions or ranches. Besides wheat and 
livestock, vast quantities of fruit and nuts 
were raised. At the time of Bidwell's death 
his several orchards numbered over 115,000 
trees, while his vineyards covered some 200 
acres of ground. At different times several 


l^i^torical S^ntrotiuction 

packing houses and canneries were operated, 
and the season's output of preserved fruit 
frequently ran to 350,000 cases. Along with 
these operations, hundreds of head of cattle 
and horses, thousands of hogs and sheep, and 
tens of thousands of bushels of grain were 
being produced. Such an establishment nec- 
essarily required the services of a large number 
of people, and from the activities dependent 
upon Bidwell's establishment the city of 
Chico developed. 

Throughout his life Bidwell was actively 
interested in civic affairs. His participation 
in the movement for California's independ- 
ence has already been noted. In 1863 he was 
appointed brigadier-general of the State 
Militia. He served as delegate to several 
national nominating conventions and as a 
member of the Thirty-ninth Congress (1865- 
67). In later years he was actively identified 
with the Prohibition party, being its presi- 
dential nominee in the campaign of 1892. 

In 1868 General Bidwell married Miss 
Annie Kennedy of Washington and the home 
to which he brought her became a noted 
center of hospitality. Numbered among 
its guests were such men as Asa Gray, 
Sir Joseph Hooker, John Muir, and David 
Starr Jordan. The range of General Bidwell's 
friendships may be suggested by putting in 


i^i^torical S^ntrobuction 

proximity to these names the statement that 
at his funeral four of the pallbearers were 
Rancho Chico Indians, three of whom had 
been unclad savages when he first became 
owner of the place; while little Indian chil- 
dren decorated the grave with wild flowers 
which they had gathered for this purpose. 

The narrative we reproduce seems to have 
been written in the year 1889. It early at- 
tracted widespread attention, being pub- 
lished serially in The Century Magazine in 
1890. At a date subsequent to General 
Bidwell's death, apparently, it was reprinted 
as a pamphlet of ninety-one pages by the 
press of the Chico Advertiser. Copies of this 
pamphlet are now difficult to obtain and for 
the present reprinting the one preserved in 
the Library of Congress has been utilized. 

No less capable and high-minded than Bid- 
well, apparently, was John Steele of Colum- 
bia County, Wisconsin, whose after life was 
passed as a minister of the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church. He was born in Middleton 
County, New York, March 22, 1832. Pre- 
cisely when he removed to Wisconsin we have 
not learned, but he was living in Columbia 
County when, in the spring of 1850, barely 
eighteen years of age, he joined an overland 
train for California. In later years he pub- 
lished a narrative of his experiences on the 


overland passage under the title Across the 
Plains in 1850. 

Steele's party arrived at Nevada City on 
September 23, 1850, and with this date be- 
gins his present narrative dealing with his 
experience of almost three years as a gold 
miner. The experiences of no two miners were 
precisely identical, of course, but Steele's 
story probably comes as near being typical 
of the common run of miners' experiences as 
any that could be presented. It affords an 
excellent picture of the hazards and thrills, 
the joys and disappointments suffered by the 
Argonauts, and chiefly for this reason it has 
been selected for reprinting in this volume of 
The Lakeside Classics. 

Although Steele kept a contemporary day 
by day journal, his narrative, like Bidwell's, 
was not prepared until after the lapse of 
several decades. It represents, therefore, a 
personal narrative written out almost half 
a century after the event, with the aid of a 
contemporary diary or journal. It will be 
evident to the reader, however, that to a cer- 
tain extent the author turned historian and 
wrote of things outside the realm of his own 
first-hand experience and knowledge. Yet so 
closely, apparently, did he rely upon the 
journal in preparing it that much of the 
jerky, unfinished literary style of the latter 


l^i^torical 3^ntrotiuctiDn 

was transferred to the published narrative; 
and despite a considerable amount of amend- 
ment by the present editor traces of this 
journalistic style of composition are still 
plentiful throughout the present version. 
The work was published at Lodi, Wisconsin, 
in 1 901, as a pamphlet of eighty-one pages, 
entitled In Caynp and Cabin. The author's 
own introduction states the best possible rea- 
son for printing it. "This journal," he says, 
"written without thought of publication, 
had been laid aside through all the interven- 
ing years. Recently, having occasion to refer 
to it, the author was impressed with the fact 
that here was faithfully delineated the every- 
day life and experience of the average miner, 
and under conditions which only California, 
in that early day, could furnish." 

Subsequent to his return to Wisconsin, 
Steele devoted some time to improving his 
education (he had taught school before going 
west). In December, 1855, he married Miss 
Rebecca Ford and soon removed to Mount 
Vernon, Missouri, where he engaged in teach- 
ing. The Civil War broke up his school and 
our author's abolition sentiments compelled 
his departure from Missouri. He recruited 
for the army for a time and in the spring of 
1864 enlisted in an Illinois regiment, his term 
of service continuing until October, 1865. In 


l^i^torical S^nttotiuction 

1867 he joined the West Wisconsin Confer- 
ence of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and 
after several pastorates was sent as a mission- 
ary to New Mexico. After seven years of serv- 
ice here, he returned to his home Conference, 
where he held pastorates in various places. 
The last dozen years of his life were passed 
at Lodi, and here he died, October 6, 1905. 
As with former volumes of the series, no 
pretense is made that the narratives re- 
printed are precise copies of their respective 
original editions; on the contrary, in such 
matters as supplying chapter divisions and 
titles, in paragraphing, punctuation, and 
other details, the editor has exercised his own 
discretion, conceiving it to be his function, 
while carefully preserving the original mean- 
ing of the author, to introduce such emenda- 
tions as may tend to present his narrative to 
the reader in a guise as attractive as possible. 
The scholar whose needs demand precise 
rendering will resort, as heretofore, to the 
original editions, which he will commonly be 
at no loss to locate; the general reader, for 
whom, primarily, The Lakeside Classics vol- 
umes are prepared, will enjoy more, we are 
persuaded, the rendering here presented. 

Detroit Public Library, 
September, 1928 


Echoes of the Past 

Echoes of 
The Past 

An Account of the First Emigrant Train 
to California, Fremont in the Con- 
quest of California, the Discov- 
ery of Gold and Early 



Price 25c 

Published by the Chlco Advertiser, Chlco. California 

Echoes of the Past 
Cl^apter i 


IN the spring of 1839 — living at the time 
in the western part of Ohio — being then 
in my twentieth year, I conceived a 
desire to see the great prairies of the West, 
especially those most frequently spoken of, 
Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri. Emigration 
from the East was tending westward, and 
settlers had already begun to invade those 
rich fields. 

Starting on foot to Cincinnati, ninety 
miles distant, I fortunately got a chance 
to ride most of the way on a wagon loaded 
with produce. My outfit consisted of about 
$75, the clothes I wore, and a few others 
in a knapsack, which I carried in the 
usual way strapped upon my shoulders, 
for in those days travelers did not have 
valises and trunks. Though traveling was 
considered dangerous, I had nothing more 
formidable than a pocket knife. From Cin- 
cinnati I went down the Ohio River by 

<£cf)oe^ of ti^t ^a^t 

steamboat to the Mississippi River, up the 
Mississippi to St. Louis, and thence to Bur- 
lington, in what was then the territory of 
lowa.-^ Those were bustling days on the 
western rivers, which were then the chief 
highways of travel. The scene at the boat 
landing I recall as particularly lively and 
picturesque. Many passengers would save a 
lot by helping to "wood the boat," /. e.j by 
carrying wood down the bank and throwing 
it down on the boat, a special ticket be- 
ing issued on that condition. It was very 
interesting to see the long line of passen- 
gers coming up the gang-plank, each with 
two or three sticks of wood on his shoul- 
ders. An anecdote is told of an Irishman 
who boarded a western steamer and wanted 
to know the fare to St. Louis, and being 
told, asked: **What do you charge for 150 
pounds of freight?" Upon learning the price, 
a small amount, he announced that he 
would go as freight. **A11 right," said the 
captain, "put him down in the hold and 
lay some flour barrels on him to keep him 

In 1839 Burlington had perhaps not over 
200 inhabitants, though it was the capital of 
Iowa Territory. After consultation with the 

^lowa Territory was set off from Wisconsin Territory 
by an act of Congress passed June 12, 1838. 

€arlp pioneering 

governor, Robert Lucas,^ of Ohio, I con- 
cluded to go into the interior and select a 
tract of land on the Iowa River. In those 
days one was permitted to take up i6o acres, 
and where practicable it was usual to take 
part timber and part prairie. After working 
awhile in putting up a log house — until all 
the people in the neighborhood became ill 
with fever and ague — I concluded to move 
on and strike out to the south and southwest 
into Missouri. I traveled across country, 
sometimes by the sun, without road or trail. 
There were houses and settlements, but they 
were scattered; sometimes one would have 
to go twenty miles to find a place to stay at 
night. The principal game was the prairie 
hen; the prairie wolf also abounded. Con- 
tinuing southwest and passing through 
Huntsville, I struck the Missouri River near 

* Robert Lucas, who had been governor of Ohio from 
1832 to 1836 was in 1838 appointed the first governor of 
Iowa Territory. Temporarily the capital was fixed at 
Burlington, which was, of course, on the eastern border 
of Iowa. Before long a permanent seat of government 
was selected farther west to which the name Iowa City 
was given. The state government was removed thither 
in 1 841. The stone capitol building which was erected 
for its accommodation is still in use as the administrative 
center of the State University of Iowa. Burlington, 
which had been successively the capital of Wisconsin 
and of Iowa has always remained one of the flourishing 
cities of the latter state. 

aEcl)oe^ of tJ)e ^a^t 

Keytesville, Chariton County. Thence I 
continued up the north side of the river till 
the westernmost settlement was reached; 
this was in Platte County. The Platte Pur- 
chase, as it was called, had been recently 
bought from the Indians, and was newly but 
thickly settled, on account of its proximity 
to navigation, its fine timber, good water and 
unsurpassed fertility. 

On the route I traveled I cannot recall 
seeing an emigrant wagon in Missouri. The 
western movement which subsequently filled 
Missouri and other western states and over- 
flowed into the adjoining territories, had 
then hardly begun, except as to Platte 
County. The contest in Congress over the 
Platte Purchase,^ which by increasing the 

^The western boundary of Missouri when admitted 
to statehood was a due north and south line drawn 
through Kansas City, the triangle of land which is en- 
closed by this line on the east, the Missouri River on the 
west, and the northern boundary of the state on the 
north, being then a reservation of the Sauk and Fox 
Indians. It was later desired to extinguish the native 
title and add this land to the state of Missouri. Since, 
however, it lay north of the parallel of 36° 30' and Mis- 
souri was a slave state, to do so involved an infringe- 
ment of the Missouri Compromise restriction of 1820, 
In 1836 Congress passed a bill, notwithstanding, provid- 
ing for the purchase, and in 1 837 it was formally annexed 
to the state. Out of the Platte Purchase, as it was com- 
monly called, six counties were eventually carved. 


€arlp ^ioneecing 

area of Missouri gave more territory to 
slavery, called wide attention to that charm- 
ing region. The anti-slavery sentiment even 
at that date ran quite high. This was, I be- 
lieve, the first addition to slave territory 
after the Missouri Compromise. But slavery 
won. The rush that followed in the space of 
one or two years filled the most desirable 
part of the Purchase to overflowing. The 
imagination could not conceive a finer coun- 
try — lovely, rolling, and fertile, wonderfully 
productive, beautifully arranged for settle- 
ment, part prairie and part timber. The 
land was unsurveyed. Every settler had 
aimed to locate half a mile from his neighbor, 
and there was as yet no conflict. Peace and 
contentment reigned. Nearly every place 
seemed to have a beautiful spring of clear 
cold water. The hills and prairies and the 
level places were alike covered with a black 
and fertile soil. I cannot recall seeing an acre 
of poor ground in Platte County. Of course 
there was intense longing on the part of the 
people of Missouri to have the Indians re- 
moved and a corresponding desire, as soon 
as the purchase was consummated, to get 
possession of the beautiful land. It was in 
some sense, perhaps, a kind of Oklahoma 
movement. Another feature was the abun- 
dance of wild honey-bees. Every tree that 

(gcftoe^ of tf^c ^a^t 

had a hollow in it seemed to be a bee tree, 
and every hollow was full of rich, golden 
honey. A singular fact which I learned 
from old hunters was that the honey-bee 
was never found more than seventy or 
eighty miles in advance of the white settle- 
ments on the frontier. On this attractive 
land I set my affections, intending to make 
it my home. 

On my arrival, my money being all spent, 
I was obliged to accept the first thing that 
offered, and I began teaching school in the 
country about five miles from the town of 
Weston, which was located on the north side 
of the Missouri River and about four miles 
above Fort Leavenworth in Kansas Terri- 
tory. Possibly some may suppose it did not 
take much education to teach a country 
school at that period in Missouri. The rapid 
settlement of that new region had brought 
together people of all classes and conditions, 
and had thrown into juxtaposition almost 
every phase of intelligence as well as illit- 
eracy. But there was no lack of self-reliance 
or native shrewdness in any class, and I must 
say I learned to have a high esteem for the 
people, among whom I found warm and life- 
long friends. 

But even in Missouri there were draw- 
backs. Rattlesnakes and copperheads were 


abundant. One man, it was said, found a 
place to suit him, but on alighting from his 
horse so many snakes greeted him that he 
decided to go farther. At his second attempt, 
finding more snakes instead of fewer, he left 
the country altogether. I taught school 
there in all about a year. My arrival was in 
June, 1839, and in the fall of that year the 
surveyors came on to lay out the country; 
the lines ran every way, sometimes through 
a man's house, sometimes through his barn, 
so that there was much confusion and trouble 
about boundaries, etc. By the favor of cer- 
tain men, and by paying a small amount for 
a little piece of fence here and a small clear- 
ing there, I got a claim, and proposed to make 
it my home, and have my father remove 
there from Ohio. 

In the following summer, 1840, the weath- 
er was very hot, so that during the vacation 
I could do but little work on my place, and 
needing some supplies — books, clothes, etc. 
— I concluded to take a trip to St. Louis, 
which I did by way of the Missouri River. 
The distance was 600 miles by water; the 
down trip occupied two days, and was one 
of the most delightful experiences of my life. 
But returning, the river being low and full of 
snags, and the steamboat heavily laden — the 
boats were generally lightly loaded going 


<ecl)oe^ of tlje ^a$t 

down — we were continually getting on sand- 
bars, and were delayed nearly a month. 

This trip proved to be the turning point in 
my life, for while I was gone a man had 
** jumped" my land. Generally in such cases 
public sentiment was against the jumper, 
and it was decidedly so in my case. But the 
scoundrel held on. He was a bully — had 
killed a man in Callaway County — and 
everybody seemed afraid of him. Influential 
friends of mine tried to persuade him to let 
me have eighty acres, half of the claim. But 
he was stubborn, and said that all he wanted 
was just what the law allowed him. Unfor- 
tunately for me, he had the legal advan- 
tage. I had worked some now and then on the 
place, but had not actually lived on it. The 
law required a certain residence, and that the 
preemptor should be twenty-one years of age 
or a man of family. I was neither, and 
could do nothing. Naturally all I had earned 
had been spent upon the land, and when it 
was taken I lost about everything I had. 
There being no possibility of getting another 
claim to suit me, I resolved to go elsewhere 
when spring should open. 


Cl^apter 2 


IN November or December of 1840, while 
still teaching school in Platte County, I 
came across a Frenchman named Roubi- 
doux,'* who said he had been to California. 
He had been a trader in New Mexico, and had 
followed the road traveled by traders from 
the frontier of Missouri to Santa Fe. He had 
probably gone through what is now New 
Mexico and Arizona into California by the 
Gila River trail used by the Mexicans. His 
description of California was of the superla- 
tive degree favorable, so much so that I re- 
solved if possible to see that wonderful land, 
and with others helped to get up a meet- 
ing at Weston and invited him to make a 
statement before it in regard to the coun- 
try. At that time when a man moved West, 
as soon as he was fairly settled he wanted 
to move again, and naturally every question 

^Joseph Robidoux had a trading post on the site of St. 
Joseph, Missouri, and is regarded as the founder of that 
city. He was a noted figure in the Indian trade of the 
Southwest. He died in 1868 at St. Joseph, where he had 
established himself in trade almost forty years before. 


€t\^ot^ of tl^c ^a^t 

imaginable was asked in regard to this won- 
derful country. Roubidoux described it as 
one of perennial spring and boundless fer- 
tility, and laid stress on the countless thou- 
sands of wild horses and cattle. He told 
about oranges, and hence must have been at 
Los Angeles or the mission of San Gabriel, 
a few miles from it. Every conceivable ques- 
tion that we could ask him was answered 
favorably. Generally the first question which 
a Missourian asked about a country was 
whether there was any fever and ague. I 
remember his answer distinctly. He said 
there was but one man in California that 
had ever had a chill there, and it was a 
matter of so much wonderment to the peo- 
ple of Monterey that they went eighteen 
miles into the country to see him shake. 
Nothing could have been more satisfactory 
on the score of health. He said that the 
Spanish authorities were most friendly, and 
that the people were the most hospitable 
on the globe; that you could travel all over 
California and it would cost you nothing 
for horses or feed. Even the Indians were 
friendly. His description of the country made 
it seem like a paradise. 

The result was that we appointed a corre- 
sponding secretary and a committee to re- 
port a plan of organization. A pledge was 


drawn up in which every signer agreed to 
purchase a suitable outfit and to rendezvous 
at Sapling Grove in what is now the state of 
Kansas, on the ninth of the following May, 
armed and equipped to cross the Rocky 
Mountains to California. We called our- 
selves the Western Emigration Society, and 
as soon as the pledge was drawn up every one 
who agreed to come signed his name to it, 
and it took like wildfire. In a short time, I 
think within a month, we had about 500 
names; we also had correspondence on the 
subject with people all over Missouri, and 
even as far east as Illinois and Kentucky, 
and as far south as Arkansas. As soon as the 
movement was announced in the papers we 
had many letters of inquiry and we expected 
people in considerable numbers to join us. 
About, that time we heard of a man in Jack- 
son County, Missouri, who had received a 
letter from a person in California named Dr. 
Marsh speaking favorably of the country, 
and a copy was published. 

Our ignorance of the route was complete. 
We knew that California lay west, and that 
was the extent of our knowledge. Some of 
the maps consulted, supposed of course to 
be correct, showed a lake in the vicinity of 
where Salt Lake now is; it was represented 
as a long lake, three or four hundred miles 


aEcftoe^ of tl)e ^a^t 

in extent, narrow and with two outlets, both 
running into the Pacific Ocean, either appar- 
ently larger than the Mississippi River. An 
intelligent man with whom I boarded — Elam 
Brown, who until recently hved in California, 
dying when over ninety years of age — pos- 
sessed a map that showed these rivers to be 
large, and he advised me to take tools along 
to make canoes, so that if we found the 
country so rough that we could not get along 
with our wagons we could descend one of 
these rivers to the Pacific. Even Fremont 
knew nothing about Salt Lake until 1843, 
when for the first time he explored it and 
mapped it correctly, his report being first 
printed, I believe, in 1845. 

This being the first movement to cross the 
Rocky Mountains to California, it is not 
surprising that it suffered reverses before we 
were fairly started. One of these was the 
publication of a letter in a New York news- 
paper giving a depressing view of the country 
for which we were all so confidently longing. 
It seems that in 1837 or 1838 a man by the 
name of Farnham, a lawyer, went from New 
York into the Rocky Mountains for his 
health. He was an invalid, hopelessly gone 
with consumption it was thought, and as a 
last resort he went into the mountains, 
traveling with the trappers, lived in the open 


air as the trappers lived, eating only meat as 
they did, and in two or three years he en- 
tirely regained his health; but instead of re- 
turning east by the way of St. Louis, as he 
had gone out, he went down the Columbia 
River and took a vessel to Monterey and 
thence to San Bias, making his way through 
Mexico to New York. Upon his return — in 
February or March, 1841 — he published the 
letter mentioned. His bad opinion of Cali- 
fornia was based wholly on his unfortunate 
experience in Monterey, which I will re- 

In 1840 there lived in California an old 
Rocky Mountain mountaineer by the name 
of Isaac Graham. He was injudicious in his 

^The author's account of Farnham's career is not 
entirely adequate. Jason Lee, a missionary to Oregon, 
returning to the United States, in 1838 toured the then 
western states lecturing and raising funds for his work. 
Farnham was then a lawyer living at Peoria, one of the 
points visited by Lee. So much local enthusiasm was 
roused by the missionary's discourse that a company 
was organized to win Oregon for the American flag, and, 
nineteen in number, the conquerors set out in the spring 
of 1839, carrying a flag on which the motto, "Oregon or 
the Grave" had been worked. Farnham was the leader 
of the band, whose vicissitudes he later recounted in a 
book which was several times reprinted with varying 
titles. The narrative is included in R. G. Thwaites (ed.), 
Early Western Travels^ comprising Volume XXVIII and 
a portion of Volume XXIX of this series. 


€tf^ot^ of tt^t ^a^t 

talk, and by boasting that the United States 
or Texas would some day take California, 
he excited the hostility and jealousy of the 
people. In those days Americans were held 
in disfavor by the native Californians on ac- 
count of the war made by Americans in 
Texas to wrest Texas from Mexico. The 
number of Americans in California at this 
time was very small. When I went to Cali- 
fornia in 1 841 all the foreigners — and all were 
foreigners except Indians and Mexicans — did 
not, I think, exceed one hundred; nor was 
the character of all of them the miost pre- 
possessing. Some of them had been trappers 
in the Rocky Mountains who had not seen 
civilization for a quarter of a century; others 
were men who had found their way into 
California, as Roubidoux had done, by way 
of Mexico; others still had gone down the 
Columbia River to Oregon and joined trap- 
ping parties in the service of the Hudson's 
Bay Company going from Oregon to Cali- 
fornia — men who would let their beards grow 
down to their knees, and wear buckskin gar- 
ments made and fringed like those of the 
Indians, and who considered it a compliment 
to be told "I took ye for an Injun." Another 
class of men from the Rocky Mountains were 
in the habit of making their way by the 
Mohave Desert south of the Sierra Nevadas 


into California to steal horses, sometimes 
driving off four or five hundred at a time. 
The other Americans, most numerous per- 
haps, were sailors who had run away from 
vessels and remained in the country. 

With few exceptions this was the character 
of the American population when I came to 
California, and they were not generally a 
class calculated to gain much favor with the 
people. Farnham happened to come into the 
bay of Monterey when this fellow Graham 
and his confederates, and all others whom 
the Californians suspected, were under ar- 
rest in irons aboard a vessel, ready for trans- 
portation to San Bias, in Mexico, whither, 
indeed, they were taken, and where some of 
them died in irons. I am not sure that at this 
time the English had a consul in California; 
but the United States had none, and there 
was no one there to take the part of the 
Americans. Farnham, being a lawyer, doubt- 
less knew the proceedings were illegal. He 
went ashore and protested against it, but 
without effect, as he was only a private 
individual. Probably he was there on a burn- 
ing hot day, and only saw the dreary sand- 
hills to the east of the old town of Monterey. 
On arriving in New York he published the 
letter referred to, describing how Americans 
were oppressed by the native Californians, 


€cf)oe^ of tfje ^a^t 

and how dangerous it was for Americans to 
go there. The merchants of Platte County 
had all along protested against our going and 
had tried from the beginning to discourage 
and break up the movement, saying it was 
the most unheard of, foolish, wild-goose chase 
that ever entered into the brain of man for 
500 people to pull up stakes, leave that 
beautiful country, and go away out to a 
region that we knew nothing of. But they 
made little headway until this letter of Farn- 
ham's appeared. They republished it in a 
paper in the town of Liberty, in Clay County 
— there being no paper published in Platte 
County — and sent it broadcast over the 
surrounding region. 

The result was that the people began to 
think more seriously about the scheme, the 
membership of the society began dropping 
off, and it so happened at last that of all the 
500 that had signed the pledge I was the only 
one that got ready; and even I had hard work 
to do so, for I had barely means to buy a 
wagon, a gun, and provisions. Indeed, the 
man who was going with me and who was to 
furnish the horses, backed out and there I 
was with my wagon. 

During the winter, to keep the project 
alive, I had made two or three trips into 
Jackson County, Missouri, always dangerous 


in winter, when ice was running, by the ferry 
at Westport Landing, now Kansas City. 
Sometimes I had to go ten miles farther 
down — sixty miles from Weston — to a safer 
ferry at Independence Landing in order to 
get into Jackson County, to see men who 
were talking of going to California and to get 

At the last moment before the time to start 
for the rendezvous at Sapling Grove — it 
seemed almost providential — along came a 
man named George Henshaw, an invalid 
from Illinois, I think. He was pretty well 
dressed, was riding a fine black horse, and 
had ten or fifteen dollars. I persuaded him 
to let me take his horse and trade him for a 
yoke of steers to pull the wagon and a sorry- 
looking, one-eyed mule for him to ride. We 
went via Weston to lay in some supplies. 
One wagon and four or five persons here 
joined us. On leaving Weston, where there 
had been so much opposition, we were six 
or seven in number, and nearly half the 
town followed us for a mile, and some for 
five or six miles to bid us good-bye, showing 
the deep interest felt in our journey. All 
expressed good wishes and desired to hear 
from us. 

When we reached Sapling Grove, the place 
of rendezvous, in May, 1841, there was but 


€cf)De^ of tt^t ^a^t 

one wagon ahead of us. For the next few 
days one or two wagons would come each 
day, and among the recruits were three 
families from Arkansas. We organized by 
electing as captain of the company a man 
named Bartleson from Jackson County, 
Missouri. He was not the best man for the 
position, but we were given to understand 
that if he was not elected captain he would 
not go; and he had seven or eight men 
with him, and we did not want the party 
diminished, so he was chosen. Every one 
furnished his own supplies. The party con- 
sisted of sixty-nine, including men, women, 
and children. Our teams were of oxen, 
mules, and horses. We had no cows, as the 
later emigrants usually had, and the lack 
of milk was a great privation to the chil- 
dren. It was understood that every one 
should have not less than a barrel of flour, 
with sugar and so forth to suit, but I laid 
in one hundred pounds of flour more than 
the usual quantity, besides other things. 
This I did because we were told that when 
we got into the mountains we probably 
would get out of bread and have to live 
on meat alone, which I thought would kill 
me even if it did not others. My gun was 
an old flint-lock rifle, but a good one. Old 
hunters told me to have nothing to do 


with cap or percussion locks, that they 
were unreHable, and that if I got my caps 
or percussion wet I could not shoot, while 
if I lost my flint I could pick up an- 
other on the plains. I doubt whether there 
was one hundred dollars in the whole 
party, but all were enthusiastic and anxious 
to go. 

In five days after my arrival we were ready 
to start, but no one knew where to go, not 
even the captain. Finally a man came up, 
one of the last to arrive, and announced that 
a company of Catholic missionaries were on 
their way from St. Louis to the Flathead 
nation of Indians with an old Rocky Moun- 
taineer for a guide, and that if we would wait 
another day they would be up with us. At 
first we were independent, and thought we 
could not afford to wait for a slow mis- 
sionary party. But when we found that no 
one knew which way to go, we sobered 
down and waited for them to come up; 
and it was well that we did, for otherwise 
probably not one of us would ever have 
reached California, because of our inexperi- 
ence. Afterwards, when we came in contact 
with Indians, our people were so easily ex- 
cited that if we had not had with us an old 
mountaineer the result would certainly have 
been disastrous. 


oEcftoe^ of tl)t ^a^t 

The name of the guide was Captain Fitz- 
patrick;^ he had been at the head of trap- 
ping parties in the Rocky Mountains for 
many years. He and the missionary party 
went with us as far as Soda Springs, now in 
Idaho, whence they turned north to the Flat- 
head nation. The party consisted of three 
Roman Catholic priests — Fathers De Smet,^ 

^Captain Thomas Fitzpatrlck was a veteran Rocky 
Mountain trader, who had been a partner in the Rocky 
Mountain Fur Company, and whose reputation for ad- 
venturous daring was widespread. Upon the decline of 
the fur trade he acted as guide for various exploring ex- 
peditions, being commissioned captain, and later major. 
In 1850 he was serving as Indian agent for the upper 
Platte region. His life story, if recorded, would make a 
volume of rare interest. 

'Father Pierre Jean De Smet was born in Belgium in 
1801. At the age of twenty he came to America to preach 
religion to the red men, but almost two decades elapsed 
before — after a long course of preparation — he was 
enabled to realize his ambition. His present mission to 
the Flatheads was in response to repeated appeals which 
representatives of that distant tribe had carried to St. 
Louis to have a "black robe" sent among them. Father 
De Smet devoted the remainder of his life to the Indians 
of the Rocky Mountain region, and concerning them 
and his experiences he published several volumes which 
became widely known. The first of these, which deals 
with the present expedition, was pubhshed at Phila- 
delphia in 1843 ^"d is entitled Letters and Sketches: 
With a Narrative of a Years Residence among the Indian 
Tribes of the Rocky Mountains. It is reprinted by 
Thwaites in his Early Western Travels^ Vol. XXVII, 


Point^ and Mengarini^ — and ten or eleven 
French Canadians, and accompanying them 
were an old mountaineer named John Gray 
and a young Englishman named Romaine,^° 
and also a man named Baker. They seemed 
glad to have us with them, and we certainly 
were glad to have their company. Father De 
Smet had been to the Flathead nation be- 
fore. ^^ He had gone out with a trapping party, 
and on his return had traveled with only a 
guide by another route, farther to the north 
and through hostile tribes. He was a genial 

^Father Nicolas Point, who was selected to accom- 
pany De Smet on the mission to the Flatheads in 1841, 
spent several years in the western country, where his 
missionary efforts were attended with much success. 
He was subsequently sent to Upper Canada, and died 
at Quebec in 1868. 

^ Father Gregory Mengarini, who was associated with 
De Smet in founding the Flathead mission, remained in 
this field until 1850. He then went to the Jesuit College 
at Santa Clara, California, where he died in 1886. 

^'^Romaine was a young Englishman who had already 
"seen the four quarters of the globe" and who was con- 
tributing to his knowledge of geography and his love of 
adventure by making the present excursion into the 
western wilderness. Father De Smet, who vainly labored 
to convert him to Catholicism, testifies to his engaging 
qualities and states that he was of a good English family. 

^^ He had gone out the preceding year to investigate on 
behalf of his church the prospects for doing missionary 
work among the Flatheads. As a result of this investiga- 
tion, the present mission was undertaken. 


<ec})ot^ of tfje ^a^t 

gentleman, of fine presence, and one of the 
saintliest men I have ever known, and I can- 
not wonder that the Indians were made to 
believe him divinely protected. He was a 
man of great kindness and great affability 
under all circumstances; nothing seemed to 
disturb his temper. The Canadians had 
mules and Red River carts, instead of wagons 
and horses — two mules to each cart, five or 
six of them — and in case of steep hills they 
would hitch three or four of the animals 
to one cart, always working them tandem. 
Sometimes a cart would go over, breaking 
everything to pieces, and at such times 
Father De Smet would be just the same — 
beaming with good humor. 

In general our route^^ lay from near West- 
port, where Kansas City now is, north- 
westerly over the prairie, crossing several 
streams, till we struck the Platte River. 
Then we followed along the south side of the 
Platte and a day's journey or so along the 
South Fork. Here the features of the country 
became more bold and interesting. Then 
crossing the South Fork, and following up the 
north side for a day or so, we went over to 
the North Fork and camped at Ash Hollow; 
thence up the north side of that fork, passing 

^' It was shortly to become noted as the famous Oregon 


those noted landmarks known as the Court 
House Rocks, Chimney Rock, Scott's Bluffs, 
etc., till we came to Fort Laramie, a trading 
post of the American Fur Company, near 
which was Lupton's Fort, belonging, as I 
understand, to some rival company; thence 
after several days we came to another noted 
landmark called Independence Rock, on a 
branch of the North Platte called the Sweet- 
water, which we followed up to the head, 
soon after striking the Big Sandy, which 
empties into Green River. Next we crossed 
Green River to Black Fork, which we fol- 
lowed up till we came to Ham's Fork, at the 
head of which we crossed the divide between 
Green and Bear rivers. Then we followed 
Bear River down to Soda Springs. The 
waters of Bear Lake discharged through that 
river, which we continued to follow down on 
the west side till we came to Salt Lake. Then 
we went around the north side of the lake 
and struck out to the west and southwest. 
For a time, till we reached the Platte 
River, one day was much like another. We 
set forth every morning and camped every 
night, detailing men to stand guard. Captain 
Fitzpatrick and the missionary party would 
generally take the lead and we would follow. 
Fitzpatrick knew all about the Indian tribes, 
and when there was any danger we kept in a 


€ti^ot$ of tl)e ^a^t 

more compact body, to protect one another. 
At other times we would be scattered along, 
sometimes for half a mile or more. We were 
generally together, because there was often 
work to be done to avoid delay. We had to 
make the road, frequently digging down steep 
banks, filling gulches, removing stones, etc. 
In such cases everybody would take a spade 
or do something to help make the roads 
passable. When we camped at night we 
usually drew the wagons and carts together 
in a hollow square and picketed our animals 
inside the corral. The wagons were common 
ones and of no special pattern, and some of 
them were covered. The tongue of one would 
be fastened to the back of another. To lessen 
the danger from Indians, we usually had no 
fires at night and did our cooking in the 

The first incident was a scare we had from 
a party of Cheyenne Indians just before we 
reached the Platte River, about two weeks 
after we set out. One of our men who chanced 
to be out hunting, some distance from the 
company and behind us, suddenly appeared 
without mule, gun, or pistol, and lacking 
most of his clothes, and in great excitement 
reported that he had been surrounded by 
thousands of Indians. The company, too, 
became excited, and Fitzpatrick tried, but 


with little effect, to control and pacify them. 
Every man started his team into a run, till 
the oxen, like the mules and horses, were in 
full gallop. Captain Fitzpatrick went ahead 
and directed them to follow, and as fast as 
they came to the bank of the river he put the 
wagons in the form of a hollow square, and 
had all the animals securely picketed within. 
After awhile the Indians came in sight. There 
were only forty of them, but they were well 
mounted on horses and were evidently a war 
party, for they had no women except one, a 
medicine woman. They came up and camped 
within one hundred yards of us on the river 
below. Fitzpatrick told us that they would 
not have come in that way if they were hos- 
tile. Our hunter in his excitement said that 
there were thousands of them, and that they 
had robbed him of his gun, mule, and pistol. 
When the Indians had put up their lodges, 
Fitzpatrick and John Gray, the old hunter 
mentioned, went out to them and by signs 
were made to understand that the Indians 
did not intend to hurt the man or take his 
mule or gun, but that he was so excited when 
he saw them that they had to disarm him to 
keep him from shooting them; they did not 
know what had become of his pistol or of his 
clothes, which they said he had thrown off. 
They surrendered the mule and gun, thus 


€cfjDe^ of ti)e ^a^t 

showing that they were friendly. They proved 
to be Cheyenne Indians. Ever afterwards 
the man went by the name of Cheyenne 

As soon as we struck the buffalo country 
we found a new source of interest. Before 
reaching the Platte we had seen an abun- 
dance of antelopes and elk, prairie wolves and 
villages of prairie dogs, but only an occa- 
sional buffalo. We now began to kill buffaloes 
for food, and at the suggestion of John Gray, 
and following the practice of Rocky Moun- 
tain white hunters, our people began to kill 
them just to get the tongues and marrow 
bones, leaving all the rest of the meat on the 
plains for the wolves to eat. But the Chey- 
enne, who traveled ahead of us for two or 
three days, set us a better example. At their 
camps we noticed that when they killed 
buffaloes they took all the meat, everything 
but the bones. Indians were never wasteful 
of the buffalo except for the sake of the robes, 
and then only in order to get the whiskey 
which traders offered them in exchange. ^^ 
There is no better beef in the world than that 
of the buffalo; it is also very good jerked — 
cut into strings and thoroughly dried. It 

^^ While this statement may represent correctly what 
Bidwell observed, it is far from possessing general 


was kn easy matter to kill buffaloes after we 
got to where they were numerous, by keeping 
out of sight and to the leeward of them. I 
think I can truthfully say that I saw in that 
region in one day more buffaloes than I have 
ever seen of cattle in all my life. I have 
seen the plains black with them for several 
days* journey as far as the eye could reach. 
They seemed to be coming northward con- 
tinually from the distant plains to the Platte 
to get water, and would plunge in and swim 
across by thousands — so numerous that they 
changed not only the color of the water, but 
its taste, until it was unfit to drink — but we 
had to use it. 

One night when we were encamped on the 
south fork of the Platte they came in such 
droves that we had to sit up and fire guns and 
make what fires we could to keep them from 
running over us and trampling us into the 
dust. We were obliged to go out some dis- 
tance from the camp to turn them; Captain 
Fitzpatrick told us that if we did not do this 
the buffaloes in front could not turn aside 
for the pressure of those behind. We could 
hear them thundering all night long; the 
ground fairly trembled with vast approach- 
ing bands, and if they had not been diverted, 
wagons, animals, and emigrants would have 
been trodden under their feet. One cannot 


<ecl^oej0? of tt^t ^a^t 

nowadays describe the rush and wildness of 
the thing. A strange feature was that when 
old oxen, tired and sore-footed, got among a 
buffalo herd, as they sometimes would in the 
night, they would soon become as wild as the 
wildest buffalo; and if ever recovered, it was 
because they could not run so fast as the 
buffaloes or one's horse. The ground over 
which the herds traveled was left rather 
barren, but buffalo grass being short and 
curling, in traveling over it they did not cut 
it up as much as they would other kinds. 

On the Platte River, on the afternoon of 
one of the hottest days we experienced on the 
plains, we had a taste of a cyclone; first came 
a terrific shower, followed by a fall of hail to 
the depth of four inches, some of the stones 
being as large as a turkey's egg, and the next 
day a waterspout — an angry, huge, whirling 
cloud column, which seemed to draw its 
water from the Platte River — passed within 
a quarter of a mile behind us. We stopped 
and braced ourselves against our wagons to 
keep them from being overturned. Had it 
struck us it would doubtless have demol- 
ished us. 

Above the junction of the forks of the 
Platte we continued to pass notable natural 
formations — first O'Fallon's Bluffs, then 
Court House Rocks, a group of fantastic 


shapes to which some of our party started to 
go. After they had gone what seemed fifteen 
or twenty miles the huge pile looked just as 
far off as when they started, and so they 
turned and came back — so deceptive are dis- 
tances in the clear atmosphere of the Rocky 
Mountains. A noted landmark on the North 
Fork, which we sighted fifty miles away, was 
Chimney Rock. It was then nearly square, 
and I think it must have been fifty feet 
higher than now, though after we passed it a 
portion of it fell off. Scott's Bluffs are known 
to emigrants for their picturesqueness. These 
formations, like those first mentioned, are 
composed of indurated yellow clay or soft 
sand rock; they are washed and broken into 
all sorts of fantastic forms by the rains and 
storms of ages, and have the appearance of 
an immense city of towers and castles. They 
are quite difficult to explore, as I learned by 
experience in an effort to pursue and kill 
mountain sheep or bighorns. These were 
seen in great numbers, but we failed to kill 
any, as they inhabit places almost inaccessi- 
ble and are exceedingly wild. 

As we ascended the Platte, buffaloes be- 
came scarcer, and on the Sweetwater none 
were to be seen. Now appeared in the dis- 
tance to the north and west, gleaming under 
the mantle of perpetual snow, the lofty range 


oEcftoe^ of tfje ^a^t 

known as the Wind River Mountains. It was 
the first time I had seen snow in summer; 
some of the peaks were very precipitous, and 
the view was altogether most impressive. 
Guided by Fitzpatrick, we crossed the Rock- 
ies at or near the South Pass," where the 
mountains were apparently low. Some years 
before a man named William Sublette,^^ 
an Indian fur trader, went to the Rocky 
Mountains with goods in wagons, and those 
were the only wagons that had ever been 
there before us; sometimes we came across 
the tracks, but generally they were obliter- 
ated and thus were of no service. 

^^The famous South Pass had been discovered by fur 
traders almost twenty years before this, although, as 
frequently in the annals of exploration, there is some 
uncertainty as to who the first white man to discover it 
was. More commonly the credit of the discovery is 
given to Captain Fitzpatrick, the guide of Bidwell's 
party. The most recent student of the problem thinks 
the credit should be awarded to the noted trader, 
Jedediah S. Smith. 

^° William L. Sublette was born in Kentucky in 1799. 
In 18 1 8 he removed to St. Charles, Missouri, and shortly 
thereafter engaged in the western fur trade. He was 
associated with General Ashley in the Rocky Mountain 
Fur Company and in 1826 he purchased Ashley's 
interest and began a career of opposition to the American 
Fur Company. In 1832 he formed a partnership with 
Robert Campbell for the Rocky Mountain trade, with 
which he was connected for a decade. He died in 1845 
while en route to Washington. 


Approaching Green River in the Rocky- 
Mountains, it was found that some of the 
wagons, including Captain Bartleson's, had 
alcohol on board, and that the owners wanted 
to find trappers in the Rocky Mountains 
with whom they might effect a sale. This 
was a surprise to many of us, as there had 
been no drinking on the way. John Gray 
was sent ahead to see if he could find a trap- 
ping party and he was instructed, if success- 
ful, to have them come to a certain place on 
Green River. He struck a trail, and over- 
took a party on their way to the buffalo 
region to lay in provisions — buffalo meat — 
and they returned, and came and camped on 
Green River very soon after our arrival, buy- 
ing the greater part, if not all, of the alcohol, 
it having first been diluted so as to make 
what they called whiskey — three or four gal- 
lons of water to one gallon of alcohol. Years 
afterward we heard of the fate of that party; 
they were attacked by Indians the very first 
night after they left us and several of them 
killed, including the captain of the trapping 
party, whose name was Frapp. The whiskey 
was probably the cause. 

Several years ago when I was going 
down Weber Caiion, approaching Salt Lake, 
swiftly borne along on an elegant observa- 
tion car amid cliffs and ever-rushing streams, 


<£cl)oe^ of tl)e S^a^t 

something said that night at the camp fire on 
Green River was forcibly recaUed to mind. 
We had in our party an illiterate fellow 
named Bill Overton, who in the evening at 
one of the camp fires loudly declared that 
nothing in his life had ever surprised him. Of 
course that raised a dispute. "Never sur- 
prised in your life?" **No, I never was sur- 
prised." And, moreover, he swore that noth- 
ing ever could surprise him. "I should not be 
surprised," said he, *' if I were to see a steam- 
boat come plowing over these mountains this 
minute." In rattling down the canon of 
Weber River it occurred to me that the reality 
was almost equal to Bill Overton's extrava- 
ganza, and I could but wonder what he 
would have said had he suddenly come upon 
this modern scene. 

As I have said, at Soda Springs — at the 
northernmost bend of Bear River — our party 
separated. ^^ It was a bright and lovely place. 
The abundance of soda water, including the 
intermittent gushing so-called Steamboat 
Spring; the beautiful fir and cedar covered 
hills; the huge piles of red or brown sinter, 
the result of fountains once active but then 
dry — all these, together with the river, lent 
a charm to its wild beauty and made the 

^^Here Bidwell's party left the Oregon Trail, whose 
further course is indicated in the sentences that follow. 


spot a notable one. Here the missionary 
party were to turn north and go into the 
Flathead nation. Fort Hall,^^ about forty 
miles distant on Snake River, lay on their 
route. There was no road, but something 
like a trail, doubtless used by trappers, led in 
that direction. From Fort Hall there was 
also a trail down Snake River, by which 
trapping parties reached the Columbia River 
and Fort Vancouver,^^ the headquarters of 
the Hudson's Bay Company. 

Our party, originally sixty-nine, had be- 
come lessened to sixty-four in number. One 
had accidentally shot and killed himself at 
the forks of the Platte. Another of our party, 

"Old Fort Hall was established in 1834 by Nathaniel 
Wyeth and in 1836 was sold to the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany. It was a few miles above the mouth of Portneuf 
River, on the narrow plain between this stream and 
Lewis River, several miles northwest of modern Poca- 
tello, Idaho. The later U. S. military post which went 
by the same name was established in 1870 some forty 
miles to the northeast of the fur trader's Fort Hall. 

^^Fort Vancouver was on the north bank of the 
Columbia River, six miles above the mouth of the 
Willamette, on the site of the present town of Van- 
couver. It was built by Dr. John McLoughlin, the 
famous Hudson's Bay Company factor, who had de- 
cided to transfer "his headquarters from Astoria to this 
point. It continued to be occupied as a post of the 
Hudson's Bay Company until the American possession 
of Oregon. In 1849 General Harney established here a 
U. S. military post, later known as Vancouver Barracks. 


(Sclioe^ of tt)e ^a^t 

named Simpson, had left us at Fort Laramie. 
Three had turned back from Green Paver, 
intending to make their way to Fort Bridger 
and await an opportunity to return home. 
Their names were Peyton, Rodgers, and 
Amos E. Frye. Thirty-two of our party, be- 
coming discouraged, decided not to venture 
without path or guide into the unknown and 
trackless regions toward California, but con- 
cluded to go with the missionary party to 
Fort Hall and thence find their way down 
Snake and Columbia rivers into Oregon. The 
rest of us — also thirty-two in number, in- 
cluding Benjamin Kelsey, his wife and little 
daughter — remained firm, refusing to be di- 
verted from our original purpose of going 
direct to California. After getting all the 
information we could from Captain Fitz- 
patrick, we regretfully bade good-bye to our 
fellow emigrants and to Father De Smet and 
his party. 

We were now thrown entirely upon our 
own resources. All the country beyond was 
to us a veritable ten'a incognita ^ and we only 
knew that Cahfornia lay to the west. Cap- 
tain Fitzpatrick was not much better in- 
formed, but he had heard that parties had 
penetrated the country to the southwest and 
west of Salt Lake to trap for beaver; and by 
his advice four of our men went with the 


parties to Fort Hall to consult Captain 
Grant,^^ who was in charge there, and gain 
information. Meanwhile our depleted party 
slowly made its way down the west side of 
Bear River. 

Our separation at Soda Springs recalls an 
incident. The days were usually very hot, 
the nights almost freezing. The first day out 
our little company went only about ten miles 
and camped on Bear River. In company 
with a man named James Johns — always 
called ** Jimmy Johns "—I wandered a mile or 
two down the river fishing. Seeing snow on 
a high mountain to the west we longed to 
reach it, for the heat where we were was 
intense. So, without losing time to get our 
guns or coats or give notice at the camp, we 
started direct for the snow, with the im- 
pression that we could go and return by sun- 
down. But there intervened a range of low 
mountains, a certain peak of which seemed 
almost to touch the snow. Both of us were 
fleet of foot and made haste, but we only 
gained the summit of the peak before sun- 
down. The distance must have been twelve 
or fifteen miles. A valley intervened and the 

^^ Captain James Grant had charge of Fort Hall, as 
factor for the Hudson's Bay Company, for several 
years. He befriended many travelers who came this 
way, and is frequently mentioned in their journals. 


€cl)oc^ of tt^t l^a^t 

snow lay on a higher mountain beyond. I 
proposed to camp, but Jimmy gave me a dis- 
dainful look, as much as to say, "You are 
afraid to go," and quickened his gait into a 
run down the mountain toward the snow. I 
called to him to stop, but he would not even 
look back. A firm resolve seized me — to 
overtake him, but not again to ask him to 
return. We crossed the valley in the night, 
saw many camp fires, and gained a sharp 
ridge leading up to the snow. This was first 
brushy and then rocky. The brush had no 
paths except those made by wild animals. 
The rocks were sharp and cut through our 
moccasins and made our feet bleed. But up 
and up we went until long after midnight, 
and until a cloud covered the mountain. We 
were above the timber line, except a few 
stunted fir trees, under which we crawled to 
await for day, for it was too dark to see. Day 
soon dawned, but we were almost frozen. 
Our fir tree nest had been the lair of grizzly 
bears that had wallowed there and shed 
quantities of shaggy hair. The snow was 
still beyond, and we had lost both sight and 
direction. But in an hour or two we reached 
it. It was nearly as hard as ice. 

Filling a handkerchief, without taking 
time to admire the scenery, we started to- 
ward the camp by a new route, for our feet 


were too sore to go by the way of the rocky 
ridge by which we had come. But the new 
way led into trouble. There were thickets so 
dense as to exclude the sun, and roaring 
little streams in deep, dark chasms. We had 
to crawl through paths which looked un- 
trodden except by grizzlies. In one place a 
large bear had passed evidently only a few 
minutes before, crossing the deep gorge, 
plunging through the wild, dashing water, 
and wetting the steep bank as he went up. 
We carried our drawn butcher knives in our 
hands, for they were our only weapons. At 
last we emerged into the valley. Apparently 
numerous Indians had left that very morn- 
ing, as shown by the tracks of lodge poles 
drawn on the ground. Making haste, we 
soon gained the hills, and at about 2 p. m. 
sighted our wagons, already two or three 
miles on the march. When our friends saw us 
they stopped, and all who could ran to wel- 
come us. They had given us up for lost, sup- 
posing that we had been killed by the hostile 
Blackfeet, who, as Captain Fitzpatrick had 
warned us, sometimes roamed through that 
region. The company had barricaded the 
camp at night as best they could, and every 
man had spent a sleepless night on guard. 
Next morning they had spent several hours 
in scouring the country. Their first questions 


oEcfjoe^ of tl)e ^a^t 

were: "Where have you been? "Where have 
you been?" I was able to answer trium- 
phantly: "We have been up to the snow!" 
and to demonstrate the fact by showing all 
the snow I had left, which was now reduced 
to a ball about the size of my fist. 

In about ten days our four men returned 
from Fort Hall, during which time we had 
advanced something over one hundred miles 
toward Salt Lake. They brought the in- 
formation that we must strike out west of 
Salt Lake — as it was even then called by the 
trappers — being careful not to go too far 
south, lest we should get into a wasteless 
country without grass. They also said we 
must be careful not to go too far north, lest 
we should get into a broken country and 
steep canons, and wander about, as trapping 
parties had been known to do, and become 
bewildered and perish. 

September had come before we reached 
Salt Lake, which we struck at its northern 
extremity. Part of the time we had pur- 
posely traveled slowly to enable the men 
from Fort Hall the sooner to overtake us. 
But unavoidable delays were frequent; daily, 
often hourly. Indian fires obscured moun- 
tains and valleys in a dense, smoky atmos- 
phere, so that we could not see any consider- 
able distance in order to avoid obstacles. 


The principal growth, on plain and hill alike, 
was the interminable sagebrush, and often it 
was difficult, for miles at a time, to break a 
road through it, and sometimes a lightly- 
laden wagon would be overturned. Its mo- 
notonous dull color and scraggy appearance 
gave a most dreary aspect to the landscape. 
But it was not wholly useless. Where large 
enough it made excellent fuel, and it was the 
home and shelter of the hare — generally 
known as the jackrabbit — and of the sage 
hen. Trees were almost a sure sign of water 
in that region. But the mirage was most 
deceptive, magnifying stunted sagebrush or 
diminutive hillocks into trees and groves. 
Thus misled, we traveled all day without 
water, and at midnight found ourselves in a 
plain as level as a floor, incrusted with salt 
and as white as snow. Crusts of salt broken 
up by our wagons and driven by the chilly 
night wind like ice on the surface of the water 
of a frozen pond was to me a striking counter- 
feit of a winter scene. 

This plain became softer and softer until 
our poor, almost famished animals could not 
pull our wagons. In fact, we were going 
direct to Salt Lake and did not know it. So, 
in search of water, we turned from a south- 
erly to an easterly course, and went about 
ten miles, and soon after daylight arrived at 


<£cl)oe^ of tl)e 5^a^t 

Bear River. So near Salt Lake were we that 
the water in the river was too salty for us or 
our animals to use, but we had to use it. It 
would not quench thirst, but it did save life. 
The grass looked most luxuriant, and spar- 
kled as if covered with frost, but it was salt. 
Our hungry, jaded animals refused to eat it, 
and we had to lie by a whole day to rest them 
before we could travel. 

Leaving this camp and bearing northwest 
we crossed our tracks on the salt plain, having 
thus described a triangle of several miles in 
dimensions. One of the most serious of our 
troubles was to find water where we could 
camp at night. So soon came another hot 
day and all night without water. From a 
westerly course we turned directly north, and 
guided by antelope trails, came in a few miles 
to an abundance of grass and good water. 
The condition of our animals compelled us to 
rest here nearly a week. Meanwhile two of 
our men who had been to Fort Hall went 
ahead to explore. Provisions were becoming 
scarce, and we saw we must avoid unneces- 
sary delay. The two men were gone about 
five days. Under their lead we set forth, 
bearing west, then southwest, around Salt 
Lake, then again west. After two or three 
fatiguing days — one day and night without 
water — the first notice we had of approach 

to any considerable mountain was the sight 
of crags dimly seen through the smoke, many 
hundred feet above our heads. Here was 
plenty of good grass and water. Nearly all 
now said: "Let us leave our wagons, other- 
wise the snows will overtake us before we get 
to California." So we stopped one day and 
threw away everything we could not carry, 
made pack saddles, and packed the oxen, 
mules, and horses, and started. 

On Green River we had seen the style of 
pack saddle used by the trapping party, and 
had learned a little about making them. Pack- 
ing is an art, and only an experienced moun- 
taineer can do it well, so as to save his animal 
and keep his pack from falling off. We were 
unaccustomed to it, and the difficulties we 
had at first were simply indescribable. It is 
much more difficult to fasten a pack on an 
ox than on a mule or a horse. The trouble 
began the very first day. But we started — 
most of us on foot, for nearly all the animals, 
including several of the oxen, had to carry 
packs. It was but a few minutes before the 
packs began to turn; horses became scared, 
mules kicked, oxen jumped and bellowed, 
and articles were scattered in all directions. 
We took more pains, fixed things, made a 
new start, and did better, though packs con- 
tinued occasionally to fall off and delay us. 


€cl)ae^ of ti^t ^a^t 

Those who had better pack saddles and 
had tied their loads securely were ahead, 
while the others were obliged to lag behind 
because they had to repack, and sometimes 
things would be strewn all along the route. 
The first night I happened to be among those 
that kept pretty well back, because the 
horses out-traveled the oxen. The foremost 
came to a place and stopped where there was 
no water or grass, and built a fire so that we 
could see it and come up to them. We got 
there about midnight, but some of our oxen 
that had packs on had not come up, and 
among them were my two. So I had to re- 
turn the next morning and find them, Chey- 
enne Dawson alone volunteering to go with 
me. One man had brought along about a 
quart of water, which was carefully doled out 
before we started, each receiving a little 
canister cover full — less than half a gill; but 
as Dawson and I had to go for the oxen we 
were given a double portion. This was all 
the water I had until the next day. It was a 
burning hot day. We could not find the trail 
of the oxen for a long time, and Dawson re- 
fused to go any farther, saying that there 
were plenty of cattle in California; but I had 
to do it for the oxen were carrying our pro- 
visions and other things. Afterwards I struck 
the trail and found that the oxen instead of 


going west had gone north, and I followed 
them until nearly sundown. They had gone 
into a grassy country, which showed that they 
were nearing water. Seeing Indian tracks on 
their trail following them, I felt there was 
imminent danger, and at once examined my 
gun and pistols to see that they were primed 
and ready. But I soon found my oxen lying 
down in tall grass by the side of the trail. 

Seeing no Indians, I hastened to fasten the 
packs and make my way to overtake the 
company. They had promised to stop when 
they came to water and wait for me. I trav- 
eled all night, and at early dawn came to 
where there was plenty of water and where 
the company had taken their dinner the day 
before, but they had failed to stop for me ac- 
cording to promise. I was much perplexed, 
because I had seen many fires during the 
night which I took to be Indian fires, so I 
fastened my oxen to a scraggy willow and 
began to miake circles around to see which 
way the company had gone. The ground was 
so hard that the animals had made no 
impression, which bewildered me. Finally, 
while making a circle of about three miles off 
to the south, I saw two men coming on horse- 
back. In the glare of the mirage, which dis- 
torted everything, I could not tell whether 
they were Indians or white men, but I could 


(ttf^ot^ of tftc ^a^t 

only tell by the motion that they were 
mounted. I made a bee-line to my oxen, so 
as to make breast-works of them. In doing 
this I came to a small stream, resembling 
running water, into which I urged my horse, 
whereupon he went down into a quagmire, 
over head and ears, out of sight. My gun 
also went under the mire. I got hold of some- 
thing on the bank, threw out my gun, which 
was full of mud and water, and holding to the 
rope attached to my horse, by dint of hard 
puUing I succeeded in getting him out — a 
very sorry sight, his ears and eyes full of 
mud, his body covered with it. At last, just 
in time, I was able to move and get behind 
the oxen. My gun was in no condition to 
shoot. However, putting dry powder in the 
pan I determined to do my best in case the 
supposed Indians should come up; but lo! 
they were two of our party, coming to meet 
me, bringing water and provisions. It was a 
great relief. I felt indignant that the party 
had not stopped for me — not the less so when 
I learned that Captain Bartleson had said, 
when they started back to find me, that they 
"would be in better business to go ahead and 
look for a road." He had not forgotten cer- 
tain comments of mine on his qualities as a 
student of Indian character. An instance of 
this I will relate. 


One morning just as we were packing up, a 
party of about ninety Indians on horseback, 
a regular war party, were descried coming up. 
Some of us begged the captain to send men 
out to prevent them coming to us while we 
were in the confusion of packing. But he 
said, "Boys, you must not show any sign of 
hostility. If you go out there with guns the 
Indians will think us hostile, and may get 
mad and hurt us." However, five or six of us 
took our guns and went out, and by signs 
made them halt. They did not prove to be 
hostile, but they had carbines, and if we had 
been careless and had let them come near 
they might, and probably would, have killed 
us. At last we got packed up and started, 
and the Indians traveled along three or four 
hundred yards one side or the other of us or 
behind us all day. They appeared anxious to 
trade and offered a buckskin, well dressed, 
worth two or three dollars, for three or four 
charges of powder and three or four balls. 
This showed that they were in want of am- 
munition. The carbines indicated that they 
had had communication with some trading 
post belonging to the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany. They had buffalo robes also, which 
showed that they were a roving hunting 
party, as there were no buffaloes within three 
or four hundred miles. At this time I had 


<ecf)De^ of tlje ^a^t 

spoken my mind pretty freely concerning 
Captain Bartleson's lack of judgment, as one 
could scarcely help doing under the circum- 

We now got into a country where there 
was no grass nor water, and then we began 
to catechize the men who had gone to Fort 
Hall. They repeated, '*If you go too far 
south you will get into a desert country and 
your animals will perish; there will be no 
water nor grass." We were evidently too far 
south. We could not go west, and the forma- 
tion of the country was such that we had to 
turn and go north across a range of moun- 
tains. Having struck a small stream we 
camped upon it all night, and next day con- 
tinued down its banks, crossing from side to 
side, most of the time following Indian paths 
or paths made by antelopes and deer. In the 
afternoon we entered a canon, the walls of 
which were precipitous and several hundred 
feet high. Finally the pleasant bermy banks 
gave out entirely, and we could travel only 
in the dry bed of what in the wet season was 
a raging river. It became a solid mass of 
stones and huge boulders, and the animals 
became tenderfooted and sore so that they 
could hardly stand up, and as we continued 
the way became worse and worse. There 
was no place for us to lie down and sleep, nor 


could our animals lie down; the water had 
given out, and the prospect was indeed 
gloomy — the canon had been leading us di- 
rectly north. 

All agreed that the animals were too jaded 
and worn to go back. Then we called the 
men: "What did they tell you at Fort Hall 
about the northern region?" They repeated, 
"You must not go too far north; if you do 
you will get into difficult canons that lead 
toward the Columbia River, where you may 
become bewildered and wander about and 
perish." This caiion was going nearly north; 
in fact it seemed a little east of north. We 
sent some men to see if they could reach the 
top of the mountain by scaling the precipice 
somewhere and get a view, and they came 
back about ten or eleven o'clock saying the 
country looked better three or four miles 
farther ahead. So we were encouraged; even 
the animals seemed to take courage, and we 
got along much better than had been thought 
possible, and by one o'clock that day came 
out on what is now known as the Humboldt 
River. It was not until four years later (1845) 
that General Fremont first saw this river and 
named it Humboldt. 

Our course was first westward and then 
southward, following this river for many 
days, till we came to its Sink, near which we 


€t\^ot$ of tt\t ^a^t 

saw a solitary horse, an indication that trap- 
pers had sometime been in that vicinity. We 
tried to catch him but failed; he had been 
there long enough to become very wild. We 
saw many Indians on the Humboldt, espe- 
cially toward the Sink. There were many tule 
marshes. The tule is a rush, large, but here 
not very tall. It was generally completely 
covered with honeydew, but this in turn was 
wholly covered with a pediculous-looking 
insect which fed upon it. The Indians gath- 
ered quantities of the honey and pressed it 
into balls about the size of one's fist, having 
the appearance of wet bran. At first we 
greatly relished this Indian food, but when 
we saw what it was made of — that the in- 
sects pressed into the mass were the main 
ingredient — we lost our appetites and bought 
no more of it. 

From the time we left our wagons many 
had to walk, and more and more as we ad- 
vanced. Going down the Humboldt, at least 
half were on foot. Provisions had given out, 
except a little coarse green grass among the 
willows. Along the river the country was 
dry, bare, and desolate; we saw no game 
except antelopes, and they were scarce and 
hard to kill; and walking was very fatiguing. 
We had several tobacco users in our company 
and the supply was running short. Tobacco 


lovers would surrender their animals for any- 
one to ride who would furnish them with an 
ounce or two to chew during the day. One 
day one of these devotees lost his tobacco and 
went back for it, but failed to find it. An 
Indian in a friendly manner overtook us, 
bringing the piece of tobacco, which he had 
found on our trail or at our latest camp, and 
surrendered it. The owner instead of being 
thankful accused the Indian of having stolen 
it — an impossibility, as we had seen no 
Indians or Indian signs for some days. Per- 
haps the Indian did not know what it was, 
else he might have kept it for smoking. But 
I think otherwise, for, patting his breast, he 
said *' Shoshone, Shoshone," which was the 
Indian way of showing he was friendly. The 
Shoshone were known as always friendly to 
the whites, and it is not difficult to see how 
other and distant tribes might claim to be 
Shoshone as a passport to favor. 

On the Humboldt we had a further division 
of our ranks. In going down the river we 
went sometimes on one side and sometimes 
on the other, but mostly on the north side, 
till we were nearing what are now known as 
the Humboldt Mountains. We were getting 
tired, and some were in favor of leaving the 
oxen, of which we then had only about seven 
or eight, and rushing on into California. 


<ec{)oe^ of tf)e l^a^t 

They said there was plenty of beef in Califor- 
nia. But some of us said: '*No, our oxen are 
now our only supply of food. We are doing 
well, making eighteen or twenty miles a 
day." One morning when it was my turn at 
driving the oxen, the captain traveled so fast 
that I could not keep up, and was left far 
behind. When night came I had to leave the 
trail and go over a rocky declivity for a mile 
and a half into a gloomy, damp bottom, and 
unpack the oxen and turn them out to eat, 
sleeping myself without blankets. I got up 
the next morning, hunted the oxen out of 
the willow thicket, and repacked them. Not 
having had supper or breakfast, and having 
to travel nine miles before I overtook the 
party, perhaps I was not in the best humor. 
They were waiting, and for the very good 
reason that they could have nothing to eat 
till I came up with the oxen and one could be 
killed. I felt badly treated, and let the cap- 
tain know it plainly; but, much to my sur- 
prise, he made no reply, and none of his men 
said a word. W^e killed an ox, ate our break- 
fast, and got ready to start about one or two 
o'clock in the afternoon. When nearly ready 
to go, the captain and one or two of his mess 
came to us and said: *'Boys, our animals are 
much better than yours, and we always get 
out of meat before any of the rest of you. 


Let us have the most of the meat this time, 
and we will pay you back the next ox we 
kill." We gladly let them have all they 
wished. But as soon as they had taken it and 
were mounted ready to start the captain in a 
loud voice exclaimed: "Now we have been 
found fault with long enough, and we are 
going to California. If you can keep up with 
us, all right; if you cannot, you may go to 

"; and away they started, the captain 

and eight men. One of the men would not go 
with the captain; he said: "The captain is 
wrong, and I will stay with you boys." 

In a short time they were out of sight. We 
followed their trail for two or three days, but 
after they had crossed over to the south side 
of the Humboldt and turned south we came 
into a sandy waste where the wind had en- 
tirely obliterated their tracks. We were then 
thrown entirely upon our own resources. It 
was our desire to make as great speed as 
possible westward, deviating only when ob- 
stacles interposed, and in such a case bearing 
south instead of north, so as to be found in a 
lower latitude in the event that winter should 
overtake us in the mountains. But, diverting 
by following our fugitive captain and party 
across the Humboldt, we thereby missed the 
luxuriant Truckee meadows lying but a short 
distance to the west, a resting place well and 


(£dyot^ of tt^t ^a^t 

favorably known to later emigrants. So, 
perforce, we followed down to the Sink of the 
Humboldt and were obliged to drink its 
water, which in the fall of the year becomes 
stagnant and the color of lye, and not fit to 
drink or use unless boiled. Here we camped. 
Leaving the Sink of the Humboldt, we 
crossed a considerable stream which must 
have been Carson River, and came to an- 
other stream which must have been the 
Walker River, and followed it up to where it 
came out of the mountains, which proved to 
be the Sierra Nevadas. We did not know the 
name of the mountains. Neither had these 
rivers then been named, nor had they been 
seen by Kit Carson or Joe Walker, for whom 
they were named, nor were they seen until 
1845 t)y Fremont, who named them. 

We were now camped on Walker River, at 
the very eastern base of the Sierra Nevadas, 
and had only two oxen left. We sent men 
ahead to see if it would be possible to scale 
the mountains, while we killed the better of 
the two oxen and dried the meat in prepara- 
tion for the ascent. The men returned to- 
ward evening and reported that they thought 
it would be possible to ascend the mountains, 
though very difficult. We had eaten our sup- 
per and were ready for the climb in the morn- 
ing. Looking back on the plains we saw 


something coming, which we decided to be 
Indians. They traveled very slowly, and it 
was difficult to understand their movements. 
To make a long story short, it was the eight 
men that had left us nine days before. They 
had gone farther south than we, and had 
come to a lake, probably Carson Lake, and 
there had found Indians, who supplied them 
plentifully with fish and pine nuts. Fish 
caught in such water are not fit to eat at any 
time, much less in the fall of the year. The 
men had eaten heartily of fish and pine nuts 
and had got something akin to cholera mor- 
bus. We ran out to meet them and shook 
hands, and put our frying pans on and gave 
them the best supper we could. Captain 
Bartleson, who when we started from Mis- 
souri was a portly man, was reduced to half 
his former girth. He said: "Boys, if ever I 
get back to Missouri I will never leave that 
country. I would gladly eat out of the 
troughs with my hogs." He seemed to be 
heartily sick of his late experience, but that 
did not prevent him from leaving us twice 
after that. 

We were now in what is at present Nevada, 
and probably within forty miles of the pres- 
ent boundary of California. We ascended 
the mountain on the north side of Walker 
River to the summit, and then struck a 


<£cI)De^ of tf)e ^a^t 

stream running west which proved to be the 
extreme source of the Stanislaus River. We 
followed it down for several days and finally 
came to where a branch ran into it, each 
forming a canon. The main river flowed in a 
precipitous gorge, in places apparently a mile 
deep, and the gorge that came into it was but 
little less formidable. At night we found our- 
selves on the extreme point of the promon- 
tory between the two, very tired, and with 
neither grass nor water. We had to stay 
there that night. Early the next morning 
two men went down to see if it would be 
possible to get down through the smaller 
canon. I was one of them, Jimmy Johns was 
the other. Benjamin Kelsey, who had shown 
himself expert in finding the way, was now, 
without any election, still recognized as 
leader, as he had been during the absence of 
Bartleson. A party also went back to see 
how far we should have to go around before 
we could pass over the tributary canon. The 
understanding was that when we went down 
the canon if it was practicable to get through 
we were to fire a gun so that all could follow; 
but if not, we were not to fire, even if we saw 
game. When Jimmy and I got down about 
three-quarters of a mile I came to the con- 
clusion that it was impossible to get through 
and said to him, "Jimmy, we might as well 


go back; we can't go here." "Yes, we can,'* 
said he, and insisting that we could, he pulled 
out a pistol and fired. 

It was an old dragoon pistol, and rever- 
berated like a cannon. I hurried back to tell 
the company not to come down, but before I 
reached them the captain and his party had 
started. I explained, and warned them that 
they could not get down; but they went on as 
far as they could go and then were obliged to 
stay all day and all night to rest the animals, 
and had to go among the rocks and pick a 
little grass for them, and go down to the 
stream through a terrible place in the canon 
to bring water up in cups and camp kettles, 
and some of the men in their boots, to pour 
down the animals' throats in order to keep 
them from perishing. Finally, four of them 
pulling and four pushing a mule, they man- 
aged to get them up one by one, and then 
carried all the things up again on their backs 
— not an easy job for exhausted men. 

In some way, nobody knows how, Jimmy 
got through that canon and into the Sacra- 
mento Valley. He had a horse with him — an 
Indian horse that was bought in the Rocky 
Mountains, and which could come as near 
climbing a tree as any horse I ever knew. 
Jimmy was a character. Of all men I have 
ever known I think he was the most fearless; 


€d^ot^ of ti^t ^a^t 

he had the bravery of a bulldog. He was not 
seen for two months — until he was found at 
Sutter's, afterwards known as Sutter's Fort, 
now Sacramento City. 

We went on, traveling as near west as we 
could. When we killed our last ox we shot 
and ate crows or anything we could kill, and 
one man shot a wildcat. We could eat any- 
thing. One day in the morning I went ahead, 
on foot of course, to see if I could kill some- 
thing, it being understood that the company 
would keep on as near west as possible and 
find a practicable road. I followed an Indian 
trail down into the canon, meeting many 
Indians on the way up. They did not molest 
me, but I did not quite like their looks. I 
went about ten miles down the canon, and 
then began to think it time to strike north to 
intersect the trail of the company going west. 
A most difficult time I had scaling the preci- 
pice. Once I threw my gun ahead of me, be- 
ing unable to hold it and climb, and then was 
in despair lest I could not get up where it was, 
but finally I did barely manage to do so, and 
make my way north. As the darkness came 
on I was obliged to look down and feel with 
my feet, lest I should pass over the trail of 
the party without seeing it. Just at dark I 
came to an immense fallen tree and tried to 
go around the top, but the place was too 


brushy, so I went around the butt, which 
seemed to me to be about twenty or twenty- 
five feet above my head. This I suppose to 
have been one of the fallen trees in the Cala- 
veras Grove o( sequoia gigantea or mammoth 
trees, as I have since been there, and to my 
own satisfaction identified the lay of the land 
and the tree. Hence I concluded that I must 
have been the first white man who ever saw 
sequoia giganlea, of which I told Fremont 
when he came to California in 1 845. Of course 
sleep was impossible, for I had neither blan- 
ket nor coat, and burned or froze alternately 
as I turned from one side to the other before 
the small fire which I had built, until morn- 
ing, when I started eastward to intersect 
the trail, thinking the company had turned 
north. But I traveled until noon and found 
no trail; then striking south, I came to the 
camp which I had left the previous morning. 
The party had gone, but not where they 
said they would go; for they had taken the 
same trail I followed into the cafion, and had 
gone up the south side, which they had found 
so steep that many of the poor animals could 
not climb it and had to be left. When I ar- 
rived, the Indians were there cutting the 
horses to pieces and carrying off the meat. 
My situation, alone among strange Indians 
killing our poor horses, was by no means 


<ecf)oe^ of tl)e ^a^t 

comfortable. Afterwards we found that these 
Indians were always at war with the Califor- 
nians. They were known as the Horse Thief 
Indians, and lived chiefly on horse flesh; they 
had been in the habit of raiding the ranches 
even to the very coast, driving away horses 
by the hundreds into the mountains to eat. 
That night I overtook the party in camp. 

A day or two later we came to a place where 
there was a great quantity of horse bones, 
and we did not know what it meant; we 
thought that an army must have perished 
there. They were, of course, horses that the 
Indians had driven in and slaughtered. A 
few nights later, fearing depredations, we 
concluded to stand guard — all but one man, 
who would not. So we let his two horses 
roam where they pleased. In the morning 
they could not be found. A few miles away 
we came to a village; the Indians had fled, 
but we found the horses killed and some of 
the meat roasting on a fire. 

We were now on the edge of the San Joa- 
quin Valley, but we did not even know that 
we were in California. We could see a range 
of mountains lying to the west — the Coast 
Range — but we could see no valley. The 
evening of the day we started down into the 
valley we were very tired, and when night 
came our party was strung along for three or 


four miles, and every man slept where dark- 
ness overtook him. He would take off his 
saddle for a pillow and turn his horse or mule 
loose, if he had one. His animal would be too 
poor to walk away, and in the morning he 
would find him, usually within fifty feet. The 
jaded horses nearly perished with hunger and 
fatigue. When we overtook the foremost of 
the party the next morning we found they 
had come to a pond of water, and one of them 
had killed a fat coyote. When I came up it 
was all eaten except the lights and the wind- 
pipe, on which I made my breakfast. 

From that camp we saw timber to the 
north of us, evidently bordering a stream 
running west. It turned out to be the stream 
that we had followed down in the mountains 
— the Stanislaus River. As soon as we came 
in sight of the bottom land of the stream we 
saw an abundance of antelopes and sandhill 
cranes. We killed two of each the first eve- 
ning. Wild grapes also abounded. The next 
day we killed fifteen deer and antelopes, 
jerked the meat, and got ready to go on, all 
except the captain's mess of seven or eight, 
who decided to stay there and lay in meat 
enough to last them into California. We 
were really almost down to tidewater, and 
did not know it. Some thought it was five 
hundred miles yet to California. But all 


<ecl)De^ of ti^t ^a^t 

thought we had to cross at least that range 
of mountains in sight to the west before 
entering the promised land, and how many 
beyond no man could tell. Nearly all thought 
it best to press on lest snows might overtake 
us in the mountains before us, as they had 
already nearly done on the mountains behind 
us (the Sierra Nevadas). Tt was now about 
the first of November. Our party set forth 
bearing northwest, aiming for a seeming gap 
north of a high mountain in the chain to the 
west of us. That mountain we found to be 
Mount Diablo. At night the Indians at- 
tacked the captain's camp and stole all their 
animals, which were the best in the company, 
and the next day the men had to overtake us 
with just what they could carry in their 

The next day, judging from the timber we 
saw, we concluded there was a river to the 
west. So two men went ahead to see if they 
could find a trail or a crossing. The timber 
proved to be along what is now known as the 
San Joaquin River. We sent two men on 
ahead to spy out the country. At night one 
of them returned, saying they came across an 
Indian on horseback without a saddle, who 
wore a cloth jacket but no other clothing. 
From what they could understand the Indian 
knew Mr. Marsh and had offered to guide 


them to his place. He plainly said ''Marsh," 
and of course we supposed it was the Dr. 
Marsh before referred to who had written the 
letter to a friend in Jackson County, Mis- 
souri, and so it proved. One man went with 
the Indian to Marsh's ranch and the other 
came back to tell us what he had done, with 
the suggestion that we should go and cross 
the river (San Joaquin) at the place to which 
the trail was leading. In that way we found 
ourselves two days later at Dr. Marsh's 
ranch, and there we learned that we were 
really in California and our journey at an 
end. After six months we had now arrived at 
the first settlement in California, November 
4, 1841. 


Ci^apter 3 


THE party whose fortunes I have fol- 
lowed across the plains was not only 
the first that went direct to Cahfornia 
from the east; we were probably the first 
white people, except Bonneville's party of 
1833, that ever crossed the Sierra Nevadas.^° 
Dr. Marsh's ranch, the first settlement 
reached by us in California, was located in 
the eastern foothills of the Coast Range 
Mountains, near the northwestern extremity 
of the great San Joaquin Valley and about six 

^Benjamin E. L. Bonneville was a native of France, 
born about the year 1795, "^^o came to America and 
graduating from West Point in 1815 spent his life as an 
officer in the U. S. army. He became a captain of 
infantry in 1825 and from 1831 to 1836 was engaged in 
various explorations in the Rocky Mountains and 
California. His journal, amplified and edited by Wash- 
ington Irving, was published by the latter in 1837 with 
the title, Adventures of Captain Bonneville^ U.S.A. y in 
the Rocky Mountains and the Far West. On Sept. 9, 
1861, Bonneville (now a colonel) was retired from active 
service for disability, and from 1862 to 1865 ^^ com- 
manded Benton Barracks, at St. Louis. He died June 
12, 1878, being at the time the oldest officer on the re- 
tired list of the U. S. army. 


California in tJje forties 

miles east of Monte Diablo, which may be 
called about the geographical center of Con- 
tra Costa County. There were no other 
settlements in the valley; it was, apparently, 
still just as new as when Columbus dis- 
covered America, and roaming over it were 
countless thousands of wild horses, of elk, 
and of antelopes. It had been one of the 
driest years ever known in California. The 
country was brown and parched, and wheat, 
beans, and everything had failed. Cattle 
were almost starving for grass, and the 
people, except perhaps a few of the best 
families, were without bread, and were eat- 
ing chiefly meat, and that often of very poor 

Dr. Marsh had come into California four 
or five years before by way of New Mexico. 
He was in some respects a remarkable man. 
In command of the^English language I have 
scarcely ever seen his equal. He had never 
studied medicine, I believe, but was a great 
reader; sometimes he would lie in bed all day 
reading, and he had a memory that stereo- 
typed all he read, and in those days in Cali- 
fornia such a man could easily assume the 
role of doctor and practice medicine. In fact, 
with the exception of Dr. Marsh there was 
then no physician of any kind anywhere in 
California. We were overjoyed to find an 


oecljoe^ of tf^t ^a^t 

American, and yet when we became ac- 
quainted with him we found him one of the 
most selfish of mortals. The night of our 
arrival he killed two pigs for us. Men re- 
duced to living on poor meat and almost 
starving have an intense longing for any- 
thing fat. We felt very grateful, for we had 
by no means recovered from starving on poor 
mule meat, and when he set his Indian cook 
to making tortillas (little cakes) for us, giv- 
ing one to each — there were thirty-two in our 
party — we felt even more grateful, and es- 
pecially when we learned that he had had to 
use some of his seed wheat, for he had no 
other. Hearing that there was no such thing 
as money in the country, and that butcher- 
knives, guns, ammunition, and everything of 
that kind were better than money, we ex- 
pressed our gratitude the first night to the 
doctor by presents, one giving a can of pow- 
der, another a bar of lead or a butcher-knife, 
and another a cheap but serviceable set of 
surgical instruments. 

The next morning I rose early, among the 
first, in order to learn from our host some- 
thing about California — what we could do, 
and where we could go — and, strange as it 
may seem he would scarcely answer a ques- 
tion. He seemed to be in an ill humor, and 
among other things he said: "The company 


€alifamia in tfje forties 

has already been over a hundred dollars' ex- 
pense to me, and God knows whether I will 
ever get a redl'^'^ of it or not." I was at a loss 
to account for this, and went out and told 
some of the party, and found that others had 
been snubbed in a similar manner. We held 
a consultation and resolved to leave as soon 
as convenient. Half our party concluded to 
go back to the San Joaquin River, where 
there was much game, and spend the winter 
hunting, chiefly for otter, the skins being 
worth three dollars apiece. The rest — about 
fourteen — succeeded in gaining information 
from Dr. Marsh by which they started to find 
the town of San Jose, about forty miles to the 
south, then known by the name of Pueblo 
de San Jose; now the city of San Jose. More 
or less of our effects had to be left at Marsh's, 
and I decided to remain and look out for 
them, and meantime to make short excur- 
sions about the country on my own account. 

After the others had left I started off, trav- 
eling south, and came to what is now called 
Liverm.ore Valley, then known as Livermore's 
ranch, belonging to Robert Livermore, a 
native of England. He had left a vessel 
when a mere bo)?-, and had married and lived 
like the native Californians, and, like them, 
was very expert with the lasso. Livermore's 

^^The r^i/was a small Spanish silver coin. 


(gcljoejtf of tl)e ^a^t 

was the frontier ranch, and more exposed 
than any other to the ravages of the Horse- 
thief Indians of the Sierra Nevadas, before 
mentioned. That valley was full of wild 
cattle, thousands of them, and they were 
more dangerous to one on foot, as I was, 
than grizzly bears. By dodging into the 
gulches and behind trees I made my way to 
a Mexican ranch at the extreme west end of 
the valley, where I stayed all night. This 
was one of the noted ranches, and belonged 
to a Californian called Don Jose Maria 
Amador, more recently to a man named 
Dougherty. The rancheros marked and 
branded their stock differently so as to dis- 
tinguish them. But it was not possible to 
keep them separate. One would often steal 
cattle from the other. Livermore in this way 
lost cattle by his neighbor Amador. In fact, 
it was almost a daily occurrence, a race to see 
which could get and kill the most of the 
other's cattle. Cattle in those days were 
often killed for the hides alone. One day a 
man saw Amador kill a fine steer belonging 
to Livermore. When he reached Livermore's, 
ten or fifteen miles away, and told him what 
Amador had done, he found Livermore skin- 
ning a steer of Amador's! 

Next day, seeing nothing to encourage me, 
I started to return to Marsh's ranch. On the 


California in tl^e jfome^ 

way, as I came to where two roads, or rather 
paths, converged, I fell in with one of the 
fourteen men, M. C. Nye, who had started 
for San Jose. He seemed very much agitated, 
and reported that at the mission of San Jose, 
some fifteen miles this side of the town of San 
Jose, all the men had been arrested and put 
in prison by General Vallejo, Mexican com- 
mander-in-chief of the military under Gover- 
nor Alvarado, he alone having been sent back 
to tell Marsh and to have him come forth- 
with to explain why this armed force had 
invaded the country. We reached Marsh's 
after dark. The next day the Doctor started 
down to the mission of San Jose, nearly 
thirty miles distant, with a list of the com- 
pany, which I gave him. He was gone about 
three days. Meanwhile we sent word to the 
men on the San Joaquin River to let them 
know what had taken place, and they at once 
returned to the ranch to await results. 

When Marsh came back, he said omi- 
nously; "Now, men, I want you all to come 
into the house and I will tell you your fate." 
W^e all went in, and he announced, "You 
men that have five dollars can have pass- 
ports and remain in the country and go where 
you please." The fact was, he had simply 
obtained passports for the asking; they had 
cost him nothing. The men who had been 


€t)iot^ of tl)e ^a^t 

arrested at the mission had been liberated as 
soon as their passports were issued to them, 
and they had at once proceeded on their way 
to San Jose. But five dollars! I don't sup- 
pose anyone had five dollars; nine-tenths of 
them probably had not a cent of money. The 
names were called and each man settled, 
giving the amount in something, and if un- 
able to make it up in money or effects he 
would give his note for the rest. All the 
names were called except my own. There 
was no passport for me. Marsh had certainly 
not forgotten me, for I had furnished him 
with the list of our names myself. Possibly 
his idea was — as others surmised and after- 
wards told me — that lacking a passport, I 
would stay at his ranch and make a useful 
hand to work. 

The next morning before day found me 
starting for the mission of San Jose to get a 
passport for myself. Mike Nye, the man who 
had brought the news of the arrest, went with 
me. A friend had lent me a poor old horse, 
fit only to carry my blankets. I arrived in a 
heavy rain-storm, and was marched into the 
calaboose and kept there three days with 
nothing to eat, and the fleas were so numer- 
ous as to cover and darken anything of a 
light color. There were four or five Indians 
in the prison. They were ironed, and they 


California in tl)e forties 

kept tolling a bell, as a punishment, I sup- 
pose, for they were said to have stolen horses; 
possibly they belonged to the Horse-thief 
tribes east of the San Joaquin Valley. Sen- 
tries were stationed at the door. Through a 
grated window I made a motion to an Indian 
boy outside and he brought me a handful of 
beans and a handful oimanteca^ which is used 
by Mexicans instead of lard. It seemed as if 
they were going to starve me to death. After 
having been there three days, I saw through 
the door a man whom, fromi his light hair, I 
took to be an American although he was clad 
in the wild picturesque garb of a native 
Californian, including serape and the huge 
spurs used by the vaquero. I had the sentry 
at the door hail him. He proved to be an 
American, a resident of the pueblo of San 
Jose, named Thomas Bowen, and he kindly 
went to Vallejo, who was right across the way 
in the big mission building, and procured for 
me the passport. I think I have that pass- 
port now, signed by Vallejo and written in 
Spanish by Victor Pruden. Everyone at the 
mission pronounced Marsh's action an out- 
rage; such a thing was never known before. 
We had already heard that a man by the 
name of Sutter was starting a colony a hun- 
dred miles away to the north in the Sacra- 
mento Valley. No other civilized settlement 


€cl)ae^ of tl)e ^a^t 

had been attempted anywhere east of the 
Coast Range; before Sutter came the Indians 
had reigned supreme. As the best thing to be 
done I now determined to go to Sutter's, 
afterwards called Sutter's Fort, or New 

Dr. Marsh said that we could make the 
journey in two days, but it took us eight. 
Winter had come in earnest, and winter in 
California then, as now, meant rain. I had 
three companions. It was wet when we 
started, and much of the time we traveled 
through a pouring rain. Streams were out of 
their banks; gulches were swimming; plains 
were inundated; indeed, most of the country 
was overflowed. There were no roads, merely 
paths, trodden only by Indians and wild 
game. We were compelled to follow the 
paths, even when they were under water, for 
the moment our animals stepped to one side, 
down they went into the mire. Most of the 
way was through the region now lying be- 
tween Lathrop and Sacramento. We got out 
of provisions and were about three days with- 
out food. Game was plentiful, but hard to 
shoot in the rain. Besides, it was impossible 
to keep our old flintlock guns dry, and es« 
pecially the powder dry in the pans. 

On the eighth day we came to Sutter's 
settlement. This was November 28, 1841; 


California in tfje ftyttit^ 

the fort had not then been begun. Sutter re- 
ceived us with open arms and in a princely 
fashion, for he was a man of the most polite 
address and the most courteous manners, a 
man who could shine in any society.^^ More- 
over, our coming was not unexpected to him. 
It will be remembered that in the Sierra 
Nevadasone of our men named Jimmy Johns 
became separated from the main party. It 
seems that he came on into California, and, 
diverging into the north, found his way down 
to Sutter's settlement, perhaps a little before 
we reached Dr. Marsh's. Through this man 
Sutter heard that our company of thirty men 
were already somewhere in California. He 
immediately loaded two mules with pro- 
visions taken out of his private stores, and 
sent two men with them in search of us. But 
they did not find us, and returned with the 
provisions to Sutter's. Later, after a long 
search, the same two men, having been sent 
out again by Sutter, struck our trail and 
followed it to Marsh's. 

John A. Sutter was born in Baden in 1803 
of Swiss parents, and was proud of his con- 
nection with the only republic of any conse- 
quence in Europe. He was a warm admirer 

^^He had been educated in a military school and had 
served as an officer in the French army before coming to 


(gcljoeief of tl)e ^a^t 

of the United States, and some of his friends 
had persuaded him to cross the x^tlantic. He 
first went to a friend in Indiana with whom 
he stayed awhile, helping to clear land, but 
it was a business that he was not accustomed 
to. So he made his way to St. Louis and in- 
vested what means he had in merchandise, 
and went out as a New Mexican trader to 
Santa Fe. Having been unsuccessful at Santa 
Fe, he returned to St. Louis, joined a party 
of trappers, went to the Rocky Mountains, 
and found his way down the Columbia River 
to Fort Vancouver. There he formed plans 
for trying to get down to the coast of Califor- 
nia to establish a colony. He took a vessel 
that went to the Sandwich Islands, and there 
communicated his plans to people who as- 
sisted him. But as there was no vessel going 
direct from the Sandwich Islands to Califor- 
nia, he had to take a Russian vessel by way 
of Sitka. He got such credit and help as he 
could in the Sandwich Islands and induced 
five or six natives to accompany him to start 
the contemplated colony. He expected to 
send to Europe and to the United States for 
his colonists. When he came to the coast of 
California in 1840, he had an interview with 
the governor, Alvarado, and obtained per- 
mission to explore the country and find a 
place for his colony. He came to the bay of 


California in tfte fottxt^ 

San Francisco, procured a boat, explored the 
largest river he could find, and selected the 
present site of Sacramento. 

A short time before we arrived, Sutter had 
bought out the Russian-American Fur Com- 
pany at Fort Ross and Bodega on the Pacific. 
That company had a charter from Spain to 
take furs, but had no right to the land. The 
charter had almost expired. Against the pro- 
test of the California authorities they had 
extended their settlement southward some 
twenty miles farther than they had any right 
to, and had occupied the country to, and 
even beyond the bay of Bodega. The time 
came when the taking of furs was no longer 
profitable; the Russians were ordered to va- 
cate and return to Sitka. They wished to sell 
out all their personal property and whatever 
remaining right they had to the land. So 
Sutter bought them out: cattle and horses, a 
little vessel of about twenty-five tons burden, 
called a launch, and other property, includ- 
ing forty-odd pieces of old rusty cannon and 
one or tv/o small brass pieces, with a quantity 
of old French flintlock muskets, pronounced 
by Sutter to be of those lost by Bonaparte in 
1 8 12 in his disastrous retreat from Moscow. 

This ordnance Sutter conveyed up the 
Sacramento River on the launch to his colony. 
As soon as the native Californians heard that 


€cl)ae^ of tfte ^a^t 

he had bought out the Russians and was be- 
ginning to fortify himself by taking up the 
cannon, they began to fear him. They were 
doubtless jealous because Americans and 
other foreigners had already commenced to 
make the place their headquarters, and they 
foresaw that Sutter's Fort would be for them, 
especially for Americans, what it naturally 
did become in fact, a place of protection and 
general rendezvous, and so they threatened 
to break it up. Sutter had not yet actually 
received his grant; he had simply taken pre- 
liminary steps and had obtained permission 
to settle and proceed to colonize. These 
threats were made before he had begun the 
fort, much less built it, and Sutter felt in- 
secure. He had a good many Indians whom 
he had collected about him, and a few white 
men (perhaps fifteen or twenty), and some 
Sandwich Islanders. When he heard of the 
coming of our thirty men he inferred at once 
that we would soon reach him and be an 
additional ^protection. With this feeling of 
security, even before the arrival of our party, 
Sutter was so indiscreet as to write a letter to 
the Governor or to some one in authority, say- 
ing that he wanted to hear no more threats 
of dispossession, for he was now able not only 
to defend himself, but to go and chastise 


California in t^t fottit^ 

That letter having been dispatched to the 
city of Mexico, the authorities there sent a 
new governor in 1 842 with about six hundred 
troops to subdue Sutter. But the new gover- 
nor, Manuel Micheltorena, was an intelligent 
man. He knew the history of California and 
was aware that nearly all of his predecessors 
had been expelled by insurrections of the 
native Californians. Sutter sent a courier to 
meet the Governor before his arrival at Los 
Angeles, with a letter in French, conveying 
his greetings to the Governor, expressing a 
most cordial welcome, and submitting cheer- 
fully and entirely to his authority. In this 
way, the Governor and Sutter became fast 
friends, and through Sutter the Americans 
had a friend in Governor Micheltorena. 

The first employment I had in California 
was in Sutter's service, about two months 
after our arrival at Marsh's. He engaged me 
in January, 1842, to go to Bodega and Fort 
Ross and to stay there until he could finish 
removing the property which he had bought 
from the Russians.^^ At that time the Rus- 
sians had an orchard of two or three acres of 
peaches and apples at Fort Ross. I dried the 

^The Russians came to California as fur traders in 
1 8 12, and withdrew in 1842. Fort Ross and Bodega 
were on the coast of Sonoma County some distance 
north of San Francisco. 


€cI)De^ of tf)e ^a^t 

peaches and some of the apples and made 
cider of the remainder. A small vineyard of 
white grapes had also been planted. In 
February, 1842, I made a trip from Bodega 
northward as far as Clear Lake in the present 
Lake County. I remained at Bodega and 
Fort Ross fourteen months, until everything 
was removed; then I came into the Sacra- 
mento Valley and took charge for Sutter of 
his Hock farm (so named from a large Indian 
village on the place), remaining there a little 
more than a year — in 1843 and part of 1844. 
Nearly everybody who came to California 
made it a point to reach Sutter's Fort. Sut- 
ter was one of the most liberal and hospitable 
of men. Everybody was welcome — one man 
or a hundred, it was all the same. He had 
peculiar traits; his necessities compelled him 
to take all he could buy, and he paid all he 
could pay; but he failed to keep up with his 
payments. And so he soon found himself 
immensely, almost hopelessly involved in 
debt. His debt to the Russians amounted at 
first to something like ^100,000. Interest 
increased apace. He had agreed to pay in 
wheat, but his crops failed. He struggled 
in every way, sowing large areas to wheat, 
increasing his cattle and horses, and trying 
to build a flouring mill. He kept his launch 
running to and from the bay, carrying down 


California in tfje forties 

hides, tallow, furs, wheat, etc., returning 
with lumber sawed by hand in the redwood 
groves nearest the bay, and other supplies. 
On an average it took a month to make a 
trip. The fare for each person was ^5, in- 
cluding board. Sutter started many other 
new enterprises in order to find relief from 
his embarrassments; but in spite of all he 
could do, these increased. Every year found 
him worse and worse off; but it was partly 
his own fault. He employed men, not be- 
cause he always needed and could profitably 
employ them, but because in the kindness of 
his heart it simply became a habit to employ 
everybody who wanted employment. As long 
as he had anything he trusted anyone with 
everything he wanted, responsible or other- 
wise, acquaintances and strangers alike. 
Most of the labor was done by Indians, 
chiefly wild ones, except a few from the 
mission who spoke Spanish. The wild ones 
learned Spanish so far as they learned any- 
thing, that being the language of the country, 
and everybody had to learn something of it. 
The number of men employed by Sutter may 
be stated at from 100 to 500 — the latter 
number at harvest time. Among them were 
blacksmiths, carpenters, tanners, gunsmiths, 
vaqueros, farmers, gardeners, weavers (to 
weave coarse woolen blankets), hunters, 


€tf^ot^ of ti^t ^a^t 

sawyers (to saw lumber by hand, a custom 
known in England), sheep-herders, trappers, 
and later, millwrights and a distiller. In a 
word, Sutter started every business and 
enterprise possible. He tried to maintain 
a sort of military discipline. Cannon were 
mounted, and pointed in every direction 
through embrasures in the walls and bas- 
tions. The soldiers were Indians, and every 
evening after coming from work they were 
drilled under a white officer, generally a Ger- 
man, marching to the music of a fife and 
drum. A sentry was always at the gate, and 
regular bells called men to and from work. 
Harvesting, with rude implements, was a 
scene. Imagine three or four hundred wild 
Indians in a grain field, armed, some with 
sickles, some with butcher-knives, some v/ith 
pieces of hoop iron roughly fashioned into 
shapes like sickles, but many having only 
their hands with which to gather up by small 
handfuls the dry and brittle grain; and as 
their hands would soon become sore, they re- 
sorted to dry willow sticks, which were split 
to afford a sharper edge with which to sever 
the straw. But the wildest part was the 
threshing. The harvest of weeks, sometimes 
of a month, was piled up in the straw in 
the form of a huge mound in the middle of a 
high, strong, round corral; then three or four 


(ffalifomia in tfte fottit^ 

hundred wild horses were turned in to thresh 
it, the Indians whooping to make them run 
faster. Suddenly they would dash in before 
the band at full speed, when the motion be- 
came reversed, with the effect of plowing up 
the trampled straw to the very bottom. In 
an hour the grain would be thoroughly 
threshed and the dry straw broken almost 
into chaff. In this manner I have seen 2,000 
bushels of wheat threshed in a single hour. 
Next came the winnowing, which would 
often take another month. It could only be 
done when the wind was blowing, by throw- 
ing high into the air shovelfuls of grain, 
straw, and chaff, the lighter materials being 
wafted to one side, while the grain, com- 
paratively clean, would descend and form a 
heap by itself. In this manner all the grain 
in California was cleaned. At that day no 
such thing as a fanning mill had ever been 
brought to this coast. 

The kindness and hospitality of the native 
Californians have not been overstated. Up 
to the time the Mexican regime ceased in 
California they had a custom of never charg- 
ing for anything; that is to say, for enter- 
tainment, food, use of horses, etc. You were 
supposed, even if invited to visit a friend, to 
bring your blankets with you, and one would 
be very thoughtless if he traveled and did not 


<ecl)oe^ of tl)e ^a^t 

take a knife along with which to cut his 
meat. When you had eaten, the invariable 
custom was to rise, deliver to the woman or 
hostess the plate on which you had eaten the 
meat and beans — for that was about all they 
had — and say, Muchas graciaSy Senora 
("Many thanks. Madam"); and the host- 
ess as invariably replied, Buen provecho 
C'May it do you much good"). The missions 
in California invariably had gardens with 
grapes, olives, figs, pomegranates, pears, and 
apples, but the ranches scarcely ever had 
any fruit, with the exception of the tuna or 
prickly pear. These were the only cultivated 
fruits I can call to mind in California, except 
oranges, lemons, and limes in a few places. 
When you wanted a horse to ride, you would 
take it to the next ranch — it might be twen- 
ty, thirty, or fifty miles — and turn it out 
there, and sometime or other in reclaiming 
his stock the owner would get it back. In 
this way you might travel from one end of 
California to the other. 

The ranch life was not confined to the 
country; it prevailed in the towns, too. 
There was not a hotel in San Francisco or 
Monterey or anywhere in California until 
1846, when the Americans took the country. 
The priests at the missions were glad to 
entertain strangers without charge. They 


California in tl)e fottit^ 

would give you a room in which to sleep, and 
perhaps a bedstead with a hide stretched 
across it, and over that you would spread 
your blankets. At this time there was not in 
California any vehicle except a rude Califor- 
nia cart. The wheels were without tires, and 
were made by felling an oak tree and hewing 
it down until it made a solid wheel nearly a 
foot thick on the rim and a little larger where 
the axle went through. The hole for the axle 
would be eight or nine inches in diameter, 
but a few years* use would increase it to a 
foot. To make the hole, an auger, gouge, or 
chisel was sometimes used, but the principal 
tool was an ax. A small tree required but lit- 
tle hewing and shaping to answer for an axle. 
These carts were always drawn by oxen, 
the yoke being lashed with rawhide to the 
horns. To lubricate the axles they used soap 
(that is one thing the Mexicans could make), 
carrying along for the purpose a big pail of 
thick soapsuds which was constantly put 
into the box or hole; but you could generally 
tell when a California cart was coming half a 
mile away by the squeaking. I have seen the 
families of the wealthiest people go long dis- 
tances at the rate of thirty miles or more a 
day, visiting in one of these clumsy two- 
wheeled vehicles. They had a little frame- 
work around it m.ade of round sticks, and a 


<ecJ)oe^ of tfje ^a^t 

bullock hide was put in for a floor or bottom. 
Sometimes the better class would have a lit- 
tle calico for curtains and cover. There was 
no such thing as a spoked wheel in use then. 
Somebody sent from Boston a wagon as a 
present to the priest in charge of the mission 
of San Jose, but as soon as summer came the 
woodwork shrunk, the tires came off, and it 
all fell to pieces. There was no one in Cali- 
fornia to set tires. When Governor Michel- 
torena was sent from Mexico to California he 
brought with him an ambulance, not much 
better than a common spring wagon, such as 
a market man would now use v/ith one horse. 
It had shafts, but in California at that time 
there was no horse broken to work in them, 
nor was there such a thing known as a 
harness; so the Governor had two mounted 
vaqueros to pull it, their riatas being fastened 
to the shafts and to the pommels of their 

The first wagons brought into California 
came across the plains in 1844 with the 
Townsend or Stevens party. They were left 
in the mountains and lay buried under the 
snow till the following spring, when Moses 
Schallenberger, Elisha Stevens, who was cap- 
tain of the party, and others went up and 
brought some of the wagons down into the 
Sacramento Valley. No other wagons had 


California in t^t forties 

ever before reached California across the 
plains. Mr. Schallenberger still lives at San 
Jose. He remained a considerable part of the 
winter alone with the wagons, which were 
buried under the snow. When the last two 
men made a desperate effort to escape over 
the mountains into California, Schallen- 
berger tried to go with them, but was unable 
to bear the fatigue, and so returned about 
fifteen miles to the cabin they had left near 
Donner Lake, as it was afterwards called, 
where he remained, threatened with starva- 
tion, till one of the party returned from the 
Sacramento Valley and rescued him. 

Elisha Stevens was from Georgia and had 
there worked in the gold mines. He started 
across the plains with the express purpose of 
finding gold. When he got into the Rocky 
Mountains, as I was told by his friend. Dr. 
Townsend, Stevens said, '*W^e are in a gold 
country." One evening, when they had 
camped for the night he went into a gulch, 
took some gravel and washed it and got the 
color of gold, thus unmistakably showing, as 
he afterwards did in Low^er California, that 
he had considerable knowledge of gold min- 
ing. But the strange thing is that after- 
wards, when Mr. Stevens passed up and 
down several times over the country between 
Bear and Yuba rivers, as he did with the 


€cl)oe^ of tf)t ^a^t 

party in the spring of 1845 ^o bring down 
their wagons, he should have seen no signs of 
gold where subsequently the whole country 
was found to contain it. 

The early foreign residents of California 
were largely runaway sailors. Many, if not 
most, would change their names. For in- 
stance, Gilroy's ranch, where the town of 
Gilroy is now located, was owned by an old 
resident under the assumed appellation of 
Gilroy. Of course, vessels touching upon this 
coast were liable, as they were everywhere, 
to lose men by desertion, especially if the 
men were maltreated. Such things have been 
so common that it is not difficult to believe 
that those who left their vessels in early days 
on this then distant coast had cause for so 
doing. To be known as a runaway sailor was 
no stain upon a man's character. It was no 
uncommon thing after my arrival here for 
sailors to be skulking and hiding about from 
ranch to ranch until the vessel they had left 
should leave the coast. At Amador's ranch, 
before mentioned, on my first arrival here, 
I met a sailor boy named Harrison Pierce, 
aged eighteen or twenty, who was conceal- 
ing himself until his vessel should go to sea. 
He was one of the men who went with me 
from Marsh's ranch to Sutter's. Californians 
would catch and return sailors to get the 

€aJifomia m tlje fnvtit^ 

reward which, I believe, captains of vessels 
invariably offered. After the vessel had 
sailed and there was no chance of a reward, 
the native Californians gave the fugitives no 
further trouble. 

At that time the only trade, foreign or 
domestic, was in hides, tallow, and furs, but 
mostly hides. With few exceptions the ves- 
sels that visited the coast were from Boston, 
fitted out by Hooper to go there and trade 
for hides. Occasionally vessels would put in 
for water or in distress. San Francisco was 
the principal harbor; the next was Monterey. 
There was an anchorage off San Luis Obispo; 
the next was Santa Barbara, the next was 
San Buenaventura, . then San Pedro, and 
lastly San Diego. The hides were generally 
collected and brought to San Diego and there 
salted, staked out to dry, and folded so that 
they would lie compactly in the ship, and 
thence shipped to Boston. Goods were prin- 
cipally sold on the vessels; there were very 
few stores on land; that of Thomas O. 
Larkin^^ at Monterey was the principal one. 
The entrance of a vessel into harbor or 

^^ Thomas O. Larkin came to California from Boston 
in 1832 with the intention of engaging in the milling 
business. He located at Monterey, became U. S. consul, 
and did much towards bringing the country under the 
American flag. 

% 89 

€tl)ot0 of tl)e ^a^t 

roadstead was a signal to all the ranchers to 
come in their little boats and launches laden 
with hides to trade for goods. Thus vessels 
went from port to port, remaining a few 
or many days according to the amount of 

I have said that there was no regular 
physician in California. Later, in 1843, in a 
company that came from Oregon, was one 
Joe Meeks, a noted character in the Rocky 
Mountains. On the way he said, ''Boys, 
when I get down to California among the 
Greasers I am going to palm myself off as a 
doctor"; and from that time they dubbed 
him Dr. Meeks. He could neither read nor 
write. As soon as the Californians heard of 
his arrival at Monterey they began to come 
to him with their different ailments. His 
first professional service was to a boy who 
had his toe cut off. Meeks, happening to be 
near, stuck the toe on, binding it in a poultice 
of mud, and it grew on again. The Governor, 
Micheltorena, employed him as surgeon. 
Meeks had a way of looking and acting very 
wise, and of being reticent when people 
talked about things he did not understand. 
One day he went into a little shop kept by a 
man known as Dr. Stokes, who had been a 
kind of hospital steward on board ship, and 
who had brought ashore one of those little 

90 4 

California in tlje fottit^ 

medicine chests that were usually taken to 
sea, with apothecary scales and a pamphlet 
giving a short synopsis of diseases and a table 
of weights and medicines, so that almost any- 
body could administer relief to sick sailors. 
Meeks went to him and said, "Doctor, I 
want you to put me up some powders." So 
Stokes went behind his table and got out his 
scales and medicines, and asked, "What kind 
of powders?" "Just common powders — 
patient not very sick." "If you will tell me 
what kind of powders. Dr. Meeks — " "Oh, 
just common powders." That is all he would 
say. Dr. Stokes told about town that Meeks 
knew nothing about medicine, but people 
thought that perhaps Meeks had given the 
prescription in Latin and that Dr. Stokes 
could not read it. 

But Meeks* reign was to have an end. An 
American man-of-war came into the harbor. 
Thomas O. Larkin was then the United 
States consul at Monterey, and the com- 
mander and all his officers went up to Lar- 
kin's store, among them the surgeon, who 
was introduced to Dr. Meeks. The con- 
versation turning upon the diseases incident 
to the country, Meeks became reticent, say- 
ing merely that he was going out of practice 
and intended to leave the country, because 
he could get no medicines. The surgeon 


<ecf)oe^ of t\\t ^a^t 

expressed much sympathy and said, "Dr. 
Meeks, if you will make me out a list I will 
very cheerfully divide with you such medi- 
cines as I can spare." Meeks did not know 
the names of three kinds of medicines, and 
tried evasion, but the surgeon cornered him 
and put the question so direct that he had to 
answer. He asked him what medicine he 
needed most. Finally Meeks said he wanted 
some ''draps," and that was all that could be 
got out of him. When the story came out his 
career as a doctor was at an end, and he soon 
after left the country. 

In 1 841 there was likewise no lawyer in 
California. In 1843 a lawyer named Hast- 
ings arrived via Oregon. He was an ambitious 
man, and desired to wrest the country from 
Mexico and make it a republic. He disclosed 
his plan to a man who revealed it to me. His 
scheme was to go down to Mexico and make 
friends of the Mexican authorities, if possible 
get a grant of land, and then go to Texas, 
consult President Houston, and then go east 
and write a book, praising the country to the 
skies, which he did with little regard to 
accuracy. His object was to start a large 
immigration, and in this he succeeded. Hast- 
ings' book was published in 1845, ^"^ ^^- 
doubtedly largely induced what was called 
the "great immigration" of 1846 across the 


California in tl^e forties 

plains, consisting of about six hundred. 
Hastings returned to California in the au- 
tumn of 1845, preparatory to taking steps to 
declare the country independent and to es- 
tablish a republic and make himself president. 
In 1846 he went back to meet the immigra- 
tion and to perfect his plans so that the emi- 
grants would know exactly where to go and 
what to do. But in 1846 the Mexican War 
intervened, and while Hastings was gone to 
meet the immigration California was taken 
possession of by the United States. 

These doubtless were the first plans ever 
conceived for the independence of California. 
Hastings knew there were not enough Amer- 
icans and foreigners yet in Cahfornia to do 
anything. He labored hard to get money to 
publish his book, and went about lecturing 
on temperance in Ohio, where he became 
intimate with a fellow by the name of 
McDonald, who was acting the Methodist 
preacher and pretending, with considerable 
success, to raise funds for missionary pur- 
poses. At last they separated, McDonald 
preceding Hastings to San Francisco, where 
he became bartender for a man named 
Vioget,who owned a saloon and billiard table, 
the first, I think, on the Pacific Coast. 
Hastings returned later, and, reaching San 
Francisco in a cold rain, went up to Vioget's 


(£cl|oe^ of tf)e ^a^t 

and called for brandy. He poured out a glass- 
ful and was about to drink it when McDon- 
ald, recognizing him, leaned over the bar, 
extended his hand, and said, '*My good 
temperance friend, how are you?" Hastings, 
in great surprise, looked him in the eyes, 
recognized him, and said, ''My dear Method- 
ist brother, how do you do?" 



IT is not generally known that in 1841 — 
the year I reached California — gold was 
discovered in what is now a part of Los 
Angeles County. The yield was not rich; 
indeed, it was so small that it made no stir. 
The discoverer was an old Canadian French- 
man by the name of Baptiste Ruelle, who 
had been a trapper with the Hudson's Bay 
Company, and, as was not an infrequent case 
with trappers, had drifted down into New 
Mexico, where he had worked in placer 
mines. The mines discovered by Ruelle in 
Cahfornia attracted a few New Mexicans, by 
whom they were worked for several years. 
But as they proved too poor, Ruelle himself 
came up into the Sacramento Valley, 500 
miles away, and engaged to work for Sutter 
when I was in Sutter's service. 

New Mexican miners invariably carried 
their gold (which was generally small, and 
small in quantity as well) in a large quill — 
that of a vulture or turkey buzzard. Some- 
times these quills would hold three or four 
ounces, and, being translucent, they were 


€tI)oe^ of tl)e ^a^t 

graduated so as to see at any time the quan- 
tity in them. The gold was kept in by a 
stopper. Ruelle had such a quill, which ap- 
peared to have been carried for years. Now 
it so happened that almost every year a party 
of a dozen men or more would come from or 
return to Oregon. Of such parties, some — 
perhaps most of them — would be Canadian 
French, who had trapped all over the coun- 
try, and these were generally the guides. In 
1843 it was known to everyone that such a 
party was getting ready to go to Oregon. 
Baptiste Ruelle had been in Sutter's employ 
for several months, when one day he came to 
Sutter, showed him a few small particles of 
gold, and said that he had found them on the 
American River, and he wanted to go far into 
the mountains on that stream to prospect for 
gold. For this purpose he desired two mules 
loaded with provisions, and he selected two 
notedly stupid Indian boys whom he wanted 
to go into the mountains with him, saying 
he would have no others. Of course he did 
not get the outfit. Sutter and I talked about 
it and queried, what does he want with so 
much provision — the American River being 
only a mile and the mountains only twenty 
miles distant? And why does he want 
those two stupid boys, since he might be 
attacked by Indians.^ Our conclusion was 


€l)e a)i^coberp of oBolD 

that he really wanted the outfit so that he 
could join the party and go to Oregon and 

Such, I believe, was Ruelle's intention, 
though in 1848, after James W. Marshall had 
discovered the gold at Coloma, Ruelle, who 
was one of the first to go there and mine, still 
protested that he had discovered gold on the 
iVmerican River in 1843. The only thing that 
I can recall to lend the least plausibility to 
Ruelle's pretensions v/ould be that, so far as 
I know, he never, after that one time, mani- 
fested any desire to go to Oregon, and re- 
mained in California until he died. But I 
should add, neither did he ever show any 
longing again to go into the mountains to 
look for gold during the subsequent years he 
remained with Sutter, even to the time of 
Marshall's discovery. 

Early in the spring of 1844 a Mexican 
working under me at the Hock farm for 
Sutter, came to me and told me there was 
gold in the Sierra Nevadas. His name was 
Pablo Gutierrez. The discovery by Mar- 
shall, it will be remembered, was in January, 
1 848. Pablo told me this at a time when I was 
calling him to account because he had ab- 
sented himself the day before without per- 
mission. I was giving him a lecture in Span- 
ish, which I could speak quite well then. 


CcI)oe^ of tf)e ^a$t 

Like many Mexicans he had an Indian wife; 
some time before, he had been in the moun- 
tains and had bought a squaw. She had run 
away from him and he had gone to find and 
bring her back. And it was while he was on 
this trip, he said, that he had seen signs of 
gold. After my lecture, he said, "Senor, I 
have made an important discovery; there 
surely is gold on Bear River in the moun- 
tains." This was in March, 1844. A few 
days afterward I arranged to go with him up 
on Bear River. He went five or six miles into 
the mountains, when he showed me the signs 
and the place where he thought the gold was. 
**Well," I said, *'can you not find some?" 
"No," he said, "because I must have a 
'batea.'" He talked so much about the 
"batea" that I concluded it must be a com- 
plicated machine. "Can't Mr. Keiser, our 
saddle-tree maker, make the batea ? " I asked. 
"Oh, no." I did not then know that a batea 
is nothing more nor less than a wooden bowl 
which the Mexicans use for washing gold. I 
said, "Pablo, where can you get it?" He 
said, "Down in Mexico." I said, "I will help 
pay your expenses if you will go down and 
get one," which he promised to do. I said, 
"Pablo, say nothing to anybody else about 
this gold discovery, and we will get the batea 
and find the gold." 


€fte 2Di#coberp of oBolti 

As time passed I was afraid to let him go 
to Mexico, lest when he got among his rela- 
tives he might be induced to stay and not 
come back, so I made a suggestion to him. I 
said, "Pablo, let us save our earnings and get 
on board a vessel and go around to Boston, 
and there get the batea; I can interpret for 
you, and the Yankees are very ingenious and 
can make anything." The idea pleased him, 
and he promised to go as soon as we could 
save enough money to pay our expenses. He 
was to keep it a secret, and I believe he faith- 
fully kept his promise. It would have taken 
us a year or two to get enough money to go. 
In those days there were every year four or 
five arrivals, sometimes six, of vessels laden 
with goods from Boston to trade for hides in 
California. These vessels brought around all 
classes of goods needed by the Mexican peo- 
ple. It would have required about six months 
each way, five months being a quick trip. 

But, as will be seen, our plans were inter- 
rupted. In the autumn of that year, in 1844, 
a revolt took place. The native chiefs of 
California, Jose Castro and ex-Governor 
Alvarado, succeeded in raising an insurrec- 
tion against the Mexican governor, Michel- 
torena, to expel him from the country. They 
accused him of being friendly to Americans 
and of giving them too much land. The 


<£cf)oe^ of tt)e ^a^t 

truth was, he had simply shown impartiality. 
When Americans had been here long enough, 
had conducted themselves properly, and had 
complied with the colonization laws of 
Mexico, he had given them lands as readily 
as to native-born citizens. He was a fair- 
minded man and an intelligent and good 
governor, and wished to develop the country. 
His friendship for Americans was a mere pre- 
text, for his predecessor, Alvarado, and his 
successor, Pio Pico, also granted lands freely 
to foreigners, and among them to Americans. 
The real cause of the insurrection against 
Micheltorena, however, was that the native 
chiefs had become hungry to get hold again 
of the revenues. The feeling against Amer- 
icans was easily aroused and became their 
main excuse. The English and French in- 
fluence, as far as felt, evidently leaned to- 
ward the side of the Californians. It was not 
open, but it was felt, and not a few expressed 
the hope that England or France would some 
day seize and hold California. I believe the 
Gachupines — natives of Spain, of whom 
there were a few — did not participate in the 
feeling against the Americans, though few did 
much, if anything, to allay it. In October 
Sutter went from Sacramento to Monterey, 
the capital, to see the governor. I went with 
him. On the way thither, at San Jose, we 


€l)e SDi^toberp of ^©^Iti 

heard the first mutterings of the insurrection. 
We hastened to Monterey and were the first 
to communicate the fact to the Governor. 
Sutter, alarmed, took the first opportunity to 
get away by water, returning home. In a 
few days the first blow was struck, the in- 
surgents taking all the horses belonging to 
the Governor at Monterey, setting the Gov- 
ernor and all his troops on foot. He raised 
a few horses as best he could and pursued 
them on foot. However, I understood that 
a sort of parley took place at or near San 
Jose, but no battle, surrender, or settlement. 
Meanwhile, having started to return to 
Sutter's Fort, 200 miles distant, I met the 
Governor returning to Monterey. He 
stopped his forces and talked with me half an 
hour and confided to me his plans. He de- 
sired me to beg the Americans to be loyal to 
Mexico; to assure them he was their friend, 
and in due time would give them all the lands 
to which they were entitled. He sent particu- 
larly friendly word to Sutter. Then I went 
on to the mission of San Jose and there fell 
in with the insurgents, who made that place 
their headquarters. I stayed all night and 
the leaders, Castro and Alvarado, treated me 
like a prince. The two insurgents protested 
their friendship for the Americans, and sent a 
request to Sutter to support them. 


(£cf)oe^ of ti^t ^a^t 

On my arrival at the fort the situation was 
fully considered, and all, with a single ex- 
ception, concluded to support Micheltorena. 
He had been our friend; he had granted us 
land; he promised, and we felt sure that we 
could rely upon, his continued friendship; 
and we felt sure, indeed, we knew, we could 
not repose the same confidence in the native 
Californians. This man, Pablo Gutierrez, 
who had told me about the gold in the Sierra 
Nevadas, was a native of Sinaloa, Mexico, 
and sympathized with the Mexican governor 
and with us. Sutter sent him with dis- 
patches to the Governor stating that we were 
organizing and preparing to join him. Pablo 
returned, and was sent again to tell the 
Governor that we were on the march to join 
him at Monterey. This time he was taken 
prisoner with our dispatches and hanged to a 
tree, somewhere near the present town of 
Gilroy. That, of course, put an end to our 
gold discovery; otherwise Pablo Gutierrez 
might have been the discoverer instead of 

But I still had it in my mind to try to find 
gold; so early in the spring of 1845 I made it 
a point to visit the mines in the south dis- 
covered by Ruelle in 1841. They were in the 
mountains about twenty miles north or 
northwest of the mission of San Fernando, or 


€J)e a)i^cobetp of oBoIti 

say fifty miles from Los Angeles. I wanted 
to see the Mexicans working there, and to 
gain what knowledge I could of gold digging. 
Dr. John Townsend went with me. Pablo's 
confidence that there was gold on Bear River 
was fresh in my mind, and I hoped the same 
year to find time to return there and explore, 
and if possible to find gold in the Sierra 
Nevadas. But I had no time that busy year 
to carry out my purpose. The Mexicans' 
slow and inefficient manner of working a 
mine was most discouraging. When I re- 
turned to Sutter's Fort the same spring, 
Sutter desired me to engage with him for a 
year as bookkeeper, which meant his general 
business man as well. His financial matters 
being in a bad way, I consented. I had a 
great deal to do besides keeping the books. 
Among other undertakings we sent men 
southwest into the Sierra Nevadas, about 
forty miles from the fort, to saw lumber with 
a whipsaw. Two men would saw of good 
lumber about loo or 125 feet a day. Early in 
June I framed an excuse to go into the moun- 
tains to give the men some special directions 
about lumber needed at the fort. The day 
was one of the hottest I had ever experienced. 
No place looked favorable for a gold dis- 
covery. I even attempted to descend into a 
deep gorge through which meandered a small 


€divt^ of tfyt ^a^t 

stream, but gave it up on account of the 
brush and the heat. My search was fruitless. 

The place where Marshall discovered gold 
in 1848 was about forty miles to the north 
of the saw-pits at this place. The next 
spring, 1849, I joined a party to go to the 
mines on and south of the Cosumne and 
Mokelumne rivers. The first day we reached 
a trading post — Digg's, I think, was the 
name. Several traders there had pitched 
their tents to sell goods. One of them was 
Tom Fallon, whom I knew. This post was 
within a few miles of where Sutter's men 
sawed the lumber in 1845. ^ asked Fallon if 
he had ever seen the old saw-pits where Sicard 
and Dupas had worked in 1845. ^^ said he 
had, and knew the place well. Then I told 
him I had attempted that year to descend 
into the deep gorge to the south of it to look 
for gold. "My stars!" he said. "Why, that 
gulch down there was one of the richest 
places that have ever been found in this 
country;" and he told me of men who had 
taken out a pint cupful of nuggets before 

Fremont's first visit to California was in 
March, 1844. He came via Oregon, traveling 
south and passing east of the Sierra Nevadas, 
and crossing the chain about opposite the 
Bay of San Francisco, at the head of the 


€fte 2Di^C0berp of (&tAb 

American River, and descending into the Sac- 
ramento Valley to Sutter's Fort. It was 
there that I first met him. He stayed but a 
short time, three or four weeks perhaps, to 
refit with fresh mules and horses and such 
provisions as he could obtain, and then set 
out on his return to the United States. 

Sutter's Fort was an important point from 
the very beginning of the colony. The build- 
ing of the fort and all subsequent immigra- 
tions added to its importance, for that was 
the first point of destination to those who 
came by way of Oregon or direct across the 
plains. The fort was begun in 1842 and fin- 
ished in 1844. There was no town until after 
the gold discovery in 1848, when it became 
the bustling, buzzing center for merchants, 
traders, miners, etc., and every available 
room was in demand. In 1849 Sacramento 
City was laid off on the river two miles west 
of the fort, and the town grew up there at 
once into a city. The first town was laid oflF 
by Hastings and myself, in the month of 
January, 1846, about three or four miles be- 
low the mouth of the American River, and 
called Sutterville. But first the Mexican 
War, then the lull which always follows ex- 
citement, and then the rush and roar of the 
gold discovery prevented its building up un- 
til it was too late. Attempts were several 


<£cl)oc^ of tlje ^a^t 

times made to revive Sutterville but Sacra- 
mento City had become too strong to be re- 
moved. Sutter always called his colony and 
fort *'New Helvetia," in spite of which the 
name mostly used by others before the Mex- 
ican War was Sutter's Fort or Sacramento, 
and later Sacramento altogether. 

Sutter's many enterprises continued to 
create a growing demand for lumber. Every 
year, and sometimes more than once, he sent 
parties into the mountains to explore for an 
available site to build a saw-mill on the Sacra- 
mento River or some of its tributaries, by 
which the lumber could be rafted down to the 
fort. There was no want of timber or of water 
power in the mountains, but the canon 
features of the streams rendered rafting im- 
practicable. The year after the war Sutter's 
needs for lumber were even greater than 
ever, although his embarrassments had in- 
creased and his ability to undertake new 
enterprises became less and less. Yet, never 
discouraged, nothing daunted, another hunt 
must be made for a mill-site. This time 
Marshall happened to be the man chosen by 
Sutter to search the mountains. He was gone 
about a month and returned with a most 
favorable report. 

James W. Marshall went across the plains 
to Oregon in 1844, and thence to California 


€f)e SDi^cDbetp of aBofti 

the next year. He was a wheelwright by- 
trade, but being very ingenious, he could 
turn his hand to almost anything. So he 
acted as carpenter for Sutter and did many 
other things, among which I may mention 
making wheels for spinning wool, and looms, 
reeds, and shuttles for weaving yarn into 
coarse blankets for the Indians, who did the 
carding, spinning, weaving, and all other 
labor. He had great, almost overweening 
confidence in his ability to do anything as a 
mechanic. I wrote the contract between him 
and Sutter to build the mill. Sutter was to 
furnish the means; Marshall was to build and 
run the mill, and have a share of the lumber 
for his compensation. His idea was to haul 
the lumber part way and raft it down the 
American River to Sacramento and thence, 
his part of it, down the Sacramento River 
and through Suisun and San Pablo bays to 
San Francisco for a market. Marshall's 
mind, in some respects at least, must have 
been unbalanced. It is hard to conceive how 
any sane man could have been so wide of the 
mark, or how anyone could have selected 
such a site for a saw-mill under the circum- 
stances. Surely no other man than Marshall 
ever entertained so wild a scheme as that of 
rafting sawed lumber down the canons of 
the American River, and no other man than 


€cl)oe^ of tl)e ^a$t 

Sutter would have been so confiding and 
credulous as to patronize him. 

It is proper to say that under great diffi- 
culties, enhanced by winter rains, Marshall 
succeeded in building the mill — a very good 
one, too, of the kind. It had improvements 
which I had never seen in saw-mills, and I 
had had considerable experience in Ohio. 
But the mill would not run because the wheel 
was placed too low. It was an old-fashioned 
flutter wheel. The remedy was to dig a 
channel or tail-race through the bar below to 
conduct away the water. The wild Indians 
of the mountains were employed to do the 
digging. Once through the bar, there would 
be plenty of fall. The digging was hard and 
took some weeks. As soon as the water began 
to run through the tail-race, the wheel was 
blocked, the gate raised, and the water per- 
mitted to gush through all night. It was 
Marshall's custom to examine the race while 
the water was running through in the morn- 
ing, so as to direct the Indians where to 
deepen it, and then shut off the water for 
them to work during the day. The water was 
clear as crystal, and the current v/as swift 
enough to sweep away the sand and lighter 
materials. Marshall made these examina- 
tions early in the morning while the Indians 
were getting their breakfast. It was on one 

1 08 

€l)e SDij8?caberp of oBalti 

of these occasions, in the clear, shallow water 
that he saw something bright and yellow. 
He picked it up — it was a piece of gold! The 
world has seen and felt the result. The mill 
sawed little or no lumber; as a lumber enter- 
prise the project was a failure, but as a gold 
discovery it was a grand success. 

There was no excitement at first, not for 
three or four months — because the mine was 
not known to be rich, or to exist anywhere 
except at the saw-mill, or to be available to 
anyone except Sutter, to whom everyone 
conceded that it belonged. Time does not 
permit me to relate how I carried the news of 
the discovery to San Francisco; how the same 
year I discovered gold on the Feather River 
and worked it; how I made the first weights 
and scales to weigh the first gold for Sam 
Brannan; how the richest of the mines be- 
came known by the Mormons who were em- 
ployed by Sutter to work at the saw-mill, 
working about on Sundays and finding it in 
the crevices along the stream and taking it to 
Brannan's store at the fort; and how Brannan 
kept the gold a secret as long as he could till 
the excitement burst out all at once like 

x-^mong the noted arrivals at Sutter's Fort 
should be mentioned that of Castro and 
Castillero, in the fall of 1845. The latter had 


(£tl^ot$ of t6e ^a^t 

been before in California, sent, as he had been 
this time, as a peace commissioner from 
Mexico. Castro was so jealous that it was 
almost impossible for Sutter to have any- 
thing like a private interview with him. 
Sutter, however, was given to understand 
that as he had stood friendly to Governor 
Micheltorena on the side of Mexico in the 
late troubles he might rely on the friendship 
of Mexico, to which he was enjoined to con- 
tinue faithful in all emergencies. Within a 
week Castillero was shown at San Jose a 
singular heavy reddish rock, which had long 
been known to the Indians, who rubbed it 
on their hands and faces to paint them. The 
Californians had often tried to smelt this 
rock in a blacksmith's fire, thinking it to 
be silver or some other precious metal. But 
Castillero, who was an intelligent man and 
a native of Spain, at once recognized it as 
quicksilver, and noted its resemblance to the 
cinnabar in the mines of Almaden. A com- 
pany was immediately formed to work it of 
which Castillero, Castro, Alexander Forbes, 
and others were members. The discovery of 
quicksilver at this time seems providential in 
view of its absolute necessity to supplement 
the imminent discovery of gold, which stirred 
and waked into new life the industries of the 


€l)e a^i^coberp of oBato 

It is a question whether the United States 
could have stood the shock of the great re- 
belHon of 1861 had the California gold dis- 
covery not been made. Bankers and business 
men of New York in 1864 did not hesitate to 
admit that but for the gold of California, 
which monthly poured its five or six millions 
into that financial center, the bottom would 
have dropped out of everything. These 
timely arrivals so strengthened the nerves 
of trade and stimulated business as to enable 
the government to sell its bonds at a time 
when its credit was its life-blood and the 
main reliance by which to feed, clothe, and 
maintain its armies. Once our bonds went 
down to thirty-eight cents on the dollar. 
California gold averted a total collapse and 
enabled a preserved Union to come forth 
from the great conflict with only four billions 
of debt instead of a hundred billions. The 
hand of Providence so plainly seen in the dis- 
covery of gold is no less manifest in the time 
chosen for its accomplishment. 


Camp and Cabin 



Mining Life and Adventure, in California 
During 1850 and Later. 


AUTHOR OF "Across the Plains in 1850," and "The Schoolmates, 
AN Epic of the War of 1861-5." 


copyright 1901. 

SlntrotinctiDn to tl^e 
jaDrigmal cEtiition 

THE following pages are not fiction; 
but rather confirm the aphorism that 
"Facts are stranger than fiction," 
even in common life. 

They embrace the writer's experience and 
observations in California for about three 
years, as recorded in his daily journal, be- 
ginning in September, 1850. 

Some of these incidents have gone into 
history; many will be remembered by sur- 
viving miners; and children of the early 
pioneers will recall the stories of their 
father's life in the mines. 

Returning to Wisconsin, the author spent 
some time in study, and was engaged in 
teaching in southwest Missouri when the 
Civil War began; joined the Union army, 
and at the close of the war became a min- 
ister in the Methodist Episcopal church; 
and is now a member of the West Wiscon- 
sin Conference. This journal, written with- 
out thought of publication, has been laid 
aside through all the busy intervening years. 


^Fntrotiuction to (Original <£tixtiDn 

Recently, having occasion to refer to it, the 
author was impressed with the fact that here 
was faithfully delineated the everyday life 
and experience of the average miner, and 
under conditions which only California, in 
that early day, could furnish. 

Here are the various incidents, just as 
they happened; ludicrous, solemn, serious, 
tragic, inexpressibly sad, but always in- 

In Camp and Cabin is the sequel to Across 
the Plains in 18^0, and as that describes life 
on the Plains in an early day, so this presents 
daily life in California's most interesting 


In Camp and Cabin 
Ci^aptet; x 


ON Monday, Sept. 23, 1850, after a 
journey of over six months our little 
company reached Nevada City in 
the gold mines of California, and on the 
morning of that day we were all together for 
the last time. 

In the trials of our long journey across the 
plains, we became well acquainted; mutual 
kindness and help had taught us to respect 
each other, and filled our hearts with grateful 
memories, to be cherished through life. Al- 
though their personnel is given in Across the 
Plains in 18^0, they will appear again in 
these pages, and I therefore insert their 
names. Those from Lee County, Iowa; John 
L.Young, George Matlock, Abraham Hughes, 
Isaiah J. Hughes, Robert McCord, John 
Donnelley, Thomas Hunt, Anderson Tade, 
and Drury Farley. 

From Iowa County, Wisconsin; William E. 
Shimmans, Henry Callanan, John Callanan, 


3^n Camp anti Cabin 

William Kingsbury, Burton Wait, and 
Thomas Dowson. 

From Columbia County, Wisconsin; John 
Steele. Fifteen men and the boy who kept 
the journal of the journey recently pub- 
lished under the title of Across the Plains in 

W^e were not only wearied with our trip 
across the plains, but the little money in our 
possession when we encountered the traders, 
who had gone out on the trail to speculate 
with the incoming immigrants, had been 
paid for supplies of food, in order to prevent 
actual starvation, until we found ourselves 
nearly penniless in a land where bread and 
meat sold for a dollar a pound. 

Our oxen, after their long journey, were 
not marketable, and were sent to a ranch in 
the Sacramento Valley where it would take 
months before their skeletons could acquire 
the requisite flesh to fit them for beef. In the 
meantime we were sustained by the hope of 
making our fortunes in the gold mines. But, 
without tools or the means to buy, how could 
we begin? Of course we must find employ- 
ment, and expect our employers to furnish 

Having ascertained that wages, for those 
who worked in the drifts on Coyote Hill, were 
sixteen dollars a day, we felt happy at the 


3^ 25ecome a <©oIli ;^mer 

prospect. Gold seemed to be abundant every- 
where except in our pockets, and we had 
faith to beheve that they would soon be re- 

In the early morning of Tuesday, Septem^- 
ber 24, my mess, consisting of John L. 
Young, George Matlock, Abraham Hughes, 
Isaiah J. Hughes, Robert McCord, and John 
Donnelley, broke up; we started out to begin 
business in earnest, and all that forenoon I 
hurried from mine to mine, hopefully inquir- 
ing for work. 

Sometimes I was asked, *'Got any tools?" 
or '* What's your wages?" 

Replying, I would say, **I have no tools; 
just arrived; will work cheap until I get 

Occasionally there was a little hesitation, 
but generally an indifferent "Guess, we don't 
need you." 

About noon I went to a restaurant and 
bakery, hoping to find something to satis- 
fy the demands of an increasing appetite. 
Taking up a diminutive loaf, I inquired the 

"Fifty cents," was the reply. 

Searching my pockets I found thirty-five 
cents was my entire cash capital. 

"All right," said the baker, " take the loaf; 
fifteen cents is nothing in California." 


5^n Camp anti €a6xn 

That little loaf, only a fair-sized biscuit, 
scarcely enough for a single meal, was all 
that stood between me and starvation. 

Eating about half, and going down to 
Roger Williams' spring for a drink (old set- 
tlers of Nevada will remember that spring), I 
pursued my search for work, but even the 
eleventh hour passed, and no man had hired 
me. Night came on; perhaps it was hunger 
which made me despondent. 

Visiting several camps of mine owners, as 
the workmen came in and were preparing 
supper, in conversation I learned that there 
was a special dread lest the rainy season 
might set in, and the deep mines either cave 
in or fill with water, causing their abandon- 
ment for the season. 

I therefore resolved to seek employment in 
the deep mines, and by diligent inquiry 
learned enough of the methods of deep min- 
ing, drifting, timbering, etc., to intelligently 
carry on such work. 

It was nearly midnight, when, under the 
shelter of my little tent, refreshing sleep 
gently stole away my sense of fatigue and 

Awaking with the dawn, I was soon on the 
ridge among the deep mines. In anticipation 
of immediate work, and of probably descend- 
ing into some damp, cool shaft, I put on my 


3^ 25ecDme a oBdUi ^inn 

wamus of striped bed-ticking, such as was 
then worn in the lead mines of Wisconsin, 
and which I had brought from there. 

The few mines employing two sets of hands 
were in active operation, the others silent and 
still; but within half an hour every windlass 
was turning, men were descending the shafts, 
tubs and boxes of gravel were being lifted by 
the long lines. 

Hearing a man say that he had just fin- 
ished his shaft, and was ready to begin drift- 
ing, I applied to him for work. My boyish 
appearance was not assuring, and my sun- 
burnt face told that I had just arrived at the 
mines. He eyed me for a moment and in- 
quired, "What do you want a day?" 

''Just what you think I'm worth; in fact, I 
wouldn't mind working for my board until I 
get acquainted." 

He simply said, "No," and went on count- 
ing a pile of blocks for timbering. 

Removing a few steps, and looking for a 
place where help seemed to be needed, I saw 
a slender, sickly-looking man, one whom 
I could have handled with ease, approach 
the one I had just left, with the inquiry, 
"Do you want a drifter?" 

He looked at the inquirer a moment and 
asked, "What do you want a day?" 

"Sixteen dollars." 


^n Camp anti Cabin 

''Ain't that pretty high?" 

"All right if your mine won't pay it," he 
said, turning away. 

"Hold on, I want you right now, come 

Here was a lesson for me, and I resolved 
to profit by it. 

Approaching another shaft, which in- 
dicated readiness to begin drifting, I in- 
quired, "Do you want a drifter?" 

"Yes, what's your wages?" 

"Sixteen dollars a day." 

"That seems pretty steep." 

"It's for you to say." 

"Where are you from?" 


Just then a stranger to us both chimed in, 
" W^hen you see a boy from Wisconsin wearin' 
them togs, he'll do in the mines anywhere." 

"All right," said the mine owner, "go to 
work, and we'll see how it pays." 

Stepping into a box about two feet square, 
its stout rope bail hooked to the windlass 
line, with a small pick and spade in my hand 
I was lowered about one hundred feet, to the 
bottom of the shaft, which was a round hole 
nearly four feet in diameter. 

From the surface of the ground, the first 
forty feet was through rather loose gravel; 
then about twenty feet of bluish clay, below 


3^ 25ecDme a oSolD 0imtt 

which lay very solid gravel, resting on a bed 
of granite rock. While there was more or less 
gold scattered in fine particles through all the 
gravel strata, the real "pay dirt" was em- 
braced in a dark-colored stratum next to the 
bed rock, and something over a foot in depth. 

The object was to remove this "pay dirt" 
as quickly as possible, filling it into the boxes 
and sending it up the shaft, in the meantime 
carefully separating the "non-pay dirt," and 
sending out as little of it as could be done in 
order to get at and remove the gold-bearing 

Working with all possible diligence, by 
noon I had introduced and keyed up my 
first timbers. These timbers were four feet 
long and about one foot square, split from 
the large pines which grew on the hill. The 
posts were set firmly on the bed rock, a little 
over two feet apart, with a beam extending 
across the top of the two posts, making a 
kind of doorway from the shaft, into an ex- 
cavation which I had already dug to the dis- 
tance of six feet. 

Probably I never did a better half day's 
work in California. Though I was without 
practical experience in mining, yet by ac- 
quaintance with miners in the lead region of 
Wisconsin, I had learned the importance of 
properly securing the bottom of a shaft, and 


5fn Camp anti Cabin 

of so fitting the timber ends to each other 
that it would be impossible for them to 
give way. 

The miners at Nevada called this, "squar- 
ing the circle." 

The shaft being circular, and the earth 
around it made to rest on a square of timbers, 
supported by posts, permitting openings on 
four sides, so that all the gravel underneath 
could be removed, and the entire structure 
remain firm, was a problem which involved a 
practical application of mathematics; but 
when this was secure, the other tim.bers were 
easily placed. 

But with anxiety over my work, lest I 
might make a mistake, and the gnawing 
of hunger, having gone to work without 
breakfast, noon found me nearly exhausted; 
and hinting that it might take some time to 
prepare dinner, I was glad to dine with my 
employer, and, in payment, add an extra 
hour to my day's work. 

In the evening, anticipating my need, he 
gave me an ounce of fine gold, worth sixteen 
dollars, and, going to the city, I laid in a 
supply of provisions, prepared my supper^ 
and the next morning took breakfast before 
going to work. 

By Saturday evening, September 27, with 
the timbers securely set, test drifts had been 


3^ 25ecDme a aBofti ^inn 

run on the bed rock, proving the mine to be 
very rich. Many of the tubs of gravel, with 
a capacity of less than half a barrel, con- 
tained over one thousand dollars worth of 

The next Monday three other hands were 
set at work, and it required only about three 
weeks to complete the job and finish my first 
eflfort at gold mining. Mr. Anson Jones, my 
employer, must have realized a large sum 
from his mine; how much I do not know, but 
he seemed well satisfied, and cheerfully paid 
me up. 

In the meantime, having found a vacant 
place on another part of the hill, I laid claim 
to it, and had been doing only enough work 
to hold it until a thorough test could be 
made. To this I now gave attention. Two 
young men, Jim Hayes and Ed Ogden, who 
had taken claims adjoining mine, wanted me 
to buy them out, and, as they asked but little 
more than the value of their work, I did so. 

The tide of immigration had brought 
wages down to nine dollars a day; so making 
a windlass and tub, buying a lifting line, and 
hiring Jim Hayes, I continued sinking the 
shaft, which was already about ten feet deep. 
We found a trace of gold in the gravel nearly 
all the way down, and in less than forty feet 
struck the bed rock. 


3^n Camp anti €ahxn 

The "pay dirt" was about two feet deep, 
and in a little pocket in the bed rock I found 
over twenty-five dollars, in fine gold in one 
pan of gravel. This was very encouraging, 
and, as the dreaded rains might set in at any 
time, I resolved to wash only as much gold as 
would pay expenses, and bring all the pay 
gravel to the surface, as soon as possible. 

Cutting a large pine near by, and prepar- 
ing timbers, we were ready for drifting. Em- 
ploying a man named Mack (I never learned 
his full name) to run the windlass, Jim and I 
worked below. 

While we were thus engaged. Mack was 
asked to bring some water from Roger 
Williams' spring. On his return he lowered 
it to me, and taking a drink, I passed a cup- 
ful to my companion, but just as he began to 
drink I snatched it from him, for I was sure 
there was something wrong with the water, 
It was quite clear, with no unpleasant taste, 
but it made me feel very badly. 

Hayes had taken very little, but both of us 
were compelled to leave the mine, and within 
an hour it was evident that we would not be 
able to resume work that afternoon. 

When questioned. Mack said he went first 
to Roger Williams' spring, but as there were 
so many people there he would be delayed in 
waiting his turn, and as the constant dipping 


^ 25ecome a <©oIti Joiner 

kept the water muddy, he went across the 
creek and got the water at what seemed to be 
just as good a spring. 

The place was said to abound in cinnabar, 
but whatever the water held in solution, it 
acted with bad effect on the stomach and 
bowels. I therefore settled up with the men 
and arranged for resuming work in the morn- 
ing, but I never entered the mine again. 

Suffering from the poisonous effects of the 
water, I went to my tent and lay down. On 
the plains we used bacon as an antidote for 
poisonous water and alkali, so I prepared 
some, and with hot coffee and bread com- 
pleted my supper. It made me feel rather 
worse, so I slept but little during the night, 
while the wind through the drooping pine 
boughs above m.y tent kept up a constant 
dirge-like moan, adding to the feeling of lone- 
liness and depression. 

Morning found me too much exhausted to 
leave the tent, but as the door was on the 
lower side, I slid down, and placing my head 
on the split half of a small pine log, which 
formed a kind of door step, drew aside the 
cloth and looked out, hoping to see some 
human being who might be induced to bring 
me a doctor. 

Hours passed; perhaps I sometimes slept, 
but that dirge-like song of the pine boughs 


3^n Camp anti Cabin 

never ceased. At times it was plaintive, sad, 
depressing; and again, like the full, rich tones 
of the organ, wonderfully inspiring, just as my 
own sensitive nerves responded to the strain. 

At last a familiar form appeared among the 
trees, coming up the slope. Raising my hand 
and motioning to him, he observed the signal, 
and turned toward ^ the tent. It was Dr. 
Callanan, the one of all others I most desired 
to see. 

After a cordial greeting, a hurried exami- 
nation, and fixing me as comfortable as pos- 
sible on my pallet, he went to the city for 
medicine, which was duly administered; then 
leaving a dose to be taken "about dark"; 
and promising to see me in the morning, 
with a cheerful "Good day," he departed. 

The hopeful inspiration of being under 
the care of a skilled physician cheered me 
greatly, and the afternoon and night passed 
with only an occasional consciousness of burn- 
ing thirst. For several days, a confused recol- 
lection of the presence of the doctor and 
others was all that lingered in my mind. But 
I had been well cared for; the doctor had 
been very attentive, and at his suggestion a 
Mr. Sexton, an excellent nurse, devoted half 
his time to my care. 

In my time of need, I was fortunate in 
having plenty of good friends; but before I 


^ 25ecome a <©oID ^intt 

was able to take care of myself, my expenses 
had exhausted all my earnings. If I con- 
tinued to live, more money was necessary, 
and therefore my claims were offered for sale. 

Some looked at them and reported, "They 
are off the range"; others said, ''They are too 
shallow." At last a German, after making a 
thorough test, offered me two hundred dol- 
lars for the entire outfit, claims and tools. It 
was the best I could do; so he weighed out 
the gold, and I gave him a bill of sale. 

The claims proved immensely rich; and a 
week afterward, when I began to walk out, 
meeting him on his way from the creek, 
where he had been washing gravel from the 
mine, he showed me his day's work; a com- 
mon wooden water bucket, more than half 
full of fine gold. And this was only one day's 
washing. I could not estimate its value, but 
its weight seemed to be all the bucket could 

When sufficiently recovered to walk, I 
naturally strolled around the city. There 
were a number of good stores, meat shops, 
bakeries, blacksmith shops, etc., but the 
gambling saloons were the terror of the town. 
Their rooms were spacious, supplied with 
music, and adorned with mirrors, pictures, 
and every device to attract the young, and 
induce them to gamble and drink. 


3^n Camp and Cabin 

Boys and young men from respectable 
homes, from quiet villages and country places 
in "the states," here spent their evenings, 
and formed associations and habits which 
wrought their ruin. Here, too, men crazed 
with drink and maddened by losses either 
killed themselves or others. 

In those days scarcely a night passed that 
men were not killed, in or about the city. 
There seemed to be no organized govern- 
ment; or if such existed, people were too busy 
with their own affairs and interests to give 
attention to the execution of law; but so far 
as possible, each one tried to protect himself. 

Fortunately, none of my associates were 
inclined to visit the saloons, though it must 
be confessed that there was such a witchery 
in the music, instrumental and vocal, that the 
masses were attracted and entranced, and 
in passing I found it difficult to resist the 
temptation to go in and listen. 

One night, however, when trying to see a 
man in relation to some business matters, I 
was directed to a large saloon. From the 
door, through the smoky air, I saw him in a 
distant part of the room. Pausing to see how 
best to reach him through the throng, a man, 
with a large revolver in his hand passed me, 
quietly pushing his way through the crowd; 
so I followed in his wake. 


^ ^Become a oBolD jHmer 

As we neared the center of the room, I 
noticed that the hum of voices, represent- 
ing all possible tones, was gradually hushed 
by a song, which, from an elevated platform, 
a young man was singing to the accompani- 
ment of a violin. For a moment the rudest be- 
came quiet. All were intently listening to the 
thrilling strains of Burns' Highland Mary, 
and leaning to catch every word, as with 
softest pathos he sang, 

"O pale, pale now the rosy lips, 

I oft have kissed sae fondly, 
And closed forever the spark'ling glance 

That dwelt on me sae kindly." 

Just then the man I had followed flourished 
his pistol, and breaking the breathless hush 
of sweet melody by a hoarse volley of bitter 
oaths, commenced firing at a man who faced 
us, and was, apparently, trying to reach the 

Instantly all was uproar, and everyone 
rushed for the door. The victim of the as- 
sault vainly tried to reach it, but fell a little 
inside. The shots into the crowd were effec- 
tive; three were killed, and several wounded; 
and then the assailant sprang over the bar, 
passed out at a back door, and made his 

I learned afterward that two of the men 
killed had had no part in the quarrel, but 


3^n Camp anti €a6in 

simply by accident came in range of the 
assassin's pistol, and so lost their lives. The 
whole affair impressed me with the folly and 
danger of being a mere spectator at such a 
place: a lesson of practical value to me. 

During my convalescence I became ac- 
quainted with Mr. Daniels, from Baltimore, 
who kept a small supply of groceries in a 
tent, and, as his place was convenient, I did 
most of my trading with him. He manu- 
factured butter from tallow and lard, and it 
looked and tasted so much like real butter, 
that, without comparing it with the genu- 
ine article, which long since had been only a 
memory, I could not tell the difference. How- 
ever, he deceived no one, but sold it for just 
what it was. He never explained the process 
of its manufacture, and whether he was the 
originator of oleomargarine I do not know. 

One afternoon he introduced me to his 
friend, Mr. Phillips, and then related the 
following story. When the California gold 
excitement reached Baltimore, Daniels was a 
dealer in general merchandise, and Phillips 
was employed by the month as a porter in 
his store. Thinking he saw an opportunity 
to make an immense fortune, Daniels closed 
his business in Baltimore, and to the value of 
^25,000 selected groceries, clothing, and 
hardware, such as he thought suitable for 


^ 25econic a oBolti Joiner 

the California market, and shipped them to 
San Francisco by way of Cape Horn. 

Phillips wanted to go to California also, so 
Daniels loaned him the amount necessary 
to pay his expenses, and on reaching San 
Francisco, Phillips hired out to work by the 
day in order to earn his passage money, and 
pay his way to the mines. 

Daniels, on reaching San Francisco with 
his goods, sold part to pay storage and trans- 
portation for the rest, and at last succeeded 
in getting what was left to the mines on the 
South Yuba. Just then the Nevada mines 
were discovered, and he found himself de- 
serted by the miners, who flocked to Deer 
Creek, and he was compelled to move his 
goods to Nevada City. 

By this time his capital stock was greatly 
reduced, and upon making an inventory he 
found that, even at the high rates charged in 
the mines, the value of his remaining stock 
was far less than when he left Baltimore. In 
fact, he was nearly bankrupt, and was now 
disposing of his limited stock, with the ex- 
pectation of taking up the pick and shovel 
and trying his fortune in the mines. He had 
not only lost much precious time, but his 
capital was nearly gone. 

In the meantime, Phillips, according to his 
reckoning, had earned enough to repay 


9^n Camp anb Cabin 

Daniels, meet his expenses to the mines, and 
supply himself with an outfit of tools. He 
therefore sought a settlement with his em- 
ployer, for as yet he had drawn but little of his 
wages, but found it impossible to obtain his 
pay in cash, and after considerable delay was 
compelled to take some city lots or nothing. 

After receiving his deeds in due and legal 
form, he started out to find his property, 
thinking perhaps he might have a place to 
pitch a tent, but he was utterly disappointed 
and disgusted to find every lot covered with 
the waters of the bay, and they seemed to be 
of little or no value. 

Homesick and discouraged he hunted an- 
other job, careful now to draw his pay every 
week, and deploring the hard fortune which 
kept him away from the mines, for which he 
had come so far. 

While engaged as porter at a hotel, a real 
estate dealer asked him whether he owned 
certain lots, giving the number and descrip- 
tion; and receiving an affirmative answer, 
replied, **I knew they belonged to a man of 
your name, but did not think that you were 
the one. We have been looking them up, and 
if you want to sell, come to our office, and I 
think we will buy them." 

Some time afterward, a man who had 
overheard the conversation, said to him, "I 


3^ 25«ome a oBolD Joiner 

think I could afford to give you fifty thousand 
dollars. for those lots." This set him to mak- 
ing inquiry in regard to prices and buyers. 
The rapid development of that part of the 
city had brought them into demand, and he 
finally sold them for eighty-three thousand 

Now, he had no need to go to the mines, 
except to repay his benefactor, and hence his 
trip to Nevada City. But how strangely the 
fortunes of those men had changed since 
leaving Baltimore. 

How often it happens thus. The most 
carefully arranged plan and confidently ex- 
pected success brings only disappointment, 
while apparent failures and expected dis- 
appointments result in unexpected success. 
Sometimes it seems enough to induce people 
to suspend judgment, abandon their plans, 
and trust to luck; but the wise ones never do 
so; knowing that **to err is human," judg- 
ment is matured, and plans perfected; and 
yet, there was a proverb common in Califor- 
nia: **It is the unexpected that happens." 


Ci^apter 2 


IT would be impossible to describe the 
depression which for a time came over 
me as I realized that not only had a for- 
tune slipped from my grasp, but health had 
also gone with it. However, youth and hope 
whispered of returning health and bound- 
less opportunities, and therefore as strength 
permitted, my time was devoted to pros- 

The hills, ravines, and gulches about Ne- 
vada were visited only to be found unprom- 
ising, occupied, or claimed. Still, rich mines 
on all sides showed how hope to others had 
ended in fruition and lured me on, each night 
fatigued, but with the dawn hopeful and 
ready to renew the search. 

Returning from one of my prospecting 
tours and ascending the ridge between Deer 
Creek and the Yuba, I struck into the im- 
migrant road, and turning towards Nevada 
intended to pass the night at Cold Spring 
Cottage, a hotel about fifteen miles from the 
city. It was late in the afternoon, and, in 
the shade of the dense pine and cedar trees 


futtt^tt Joining ^bbentureie? 

darkness came suddenly, and I groped my 
way to the hotel only to find it closed. 

There seemed no alternative but to trudge 
on to Nevada; but, weakened by recent sick- 
ness, worn with the toil and journey of the 
day, and also without supper, I found the 
task too great, and utterly gave out. 

So turning a short distance from the road, 
and creeping under the drooping branches of 
a low cedar, I lay down to rest and sleep. 
Sleep did not readily come to my relief. 
Sometime in the night I heard a team and 
wagon pass along the road, but it was not 
going towards the city, and therefore could 
afford me no aid. At last, though somewhat 
chilled, I waked from a refreshing sleep to 
find that day had come. 

But had I known what was passing around 
me during the night, I would have spent it 
among the topmost branches of the cedar, 
rather than on the ground, for when resum- 
ing my journey I found the broad footprints 
of a grizzly bear. It came from the opposite 
side, followed the road for some distance, 
showing that the tracks were made since the 
wagon had passed, and finally turned in the 
direction toward where I lay, and must have 
come quite near. 

How he failed to find me was inexplicable. 
I shuddered at the thought of awakening in 


2Fn Camp anti Cabin 

his strong embrace and made up my mind 
never to give a bear another such chance. 

Afterward, while reading the Bible, I came 
to these words, which recalled the incident 
and impressed me deeply: Psalm iv., 8. **/ 
will both lay me down in peace and sleeps for 
thou^ Lord, only makest me to dwell in safety ^ 
Truly, God's providence is a better protec- 
tion than human wisdom, strength and skill; 
for when we have exhausted all these we are 
still safe under his care. 

Reaching Nevada, the specter of starva- 
tion again began to haunt me, but I was, 
at least, thankful for improved health and 
for having been saved from the grizzly's 

About this time I accepted Fred Dinkler's 
offer of nine dollars a day to work in his mine 
on Coyote Hill. It was some sixty feet deep, 
and had originally embraced four rods 
square, but was now nearly half worked out. 
The timbers, especially around the shaft, 
were in a very unsafe condition. 

There were two sets of hands; the one to 
which I belonged, going to work at noon and 
working twelve hours, was relieved at mid- 

It was November, but as yet little rain 
had fallen, and Fred hoped to have the mine 
worked out before it was flooded, or made 


unsafe by the rains, so the work was pushed 
with all diligence. 

One night about ten o'clock we heard a 
crash in the shaft, and immediately the 
timbers began to settle and break. There 
were five of us in the mine; four in the drifts, 
and one who dragged the buckets to the 
shaft, unhitched the empty one, and hitched 
the full one to the windlass line. 

Part of the shaft had caved in, and, to all 
appearance, we were about to be buried in a 
deep grave. The shaft was so filled that the 
bucket could only be lowered to within about 
four feet of the bottom; and as we listened, 
we could hear an occasional boulder, coming 
down, strike against it. Just then some one 
provoked a smile by saying, ''Boys, that 
sounds like kicking the bucket." 

But when our candles became dim, in- 
dicating that the air was shut off, that slang 
allusion to death had a terrible meaning. 
However, the man at the shaft worked his 
way up, opened a passage into the shaft, got 
into the bucket, and was safely raised to the 
top. Again the bucket was carefully lowered, 
and so, one by one, all of us at last escaped. 

When I went up, I carried my candle, in 
order to examine the shaft, which seemed 
firm until near the top, where the gravel was 
loose, and a considerable bank had caved off. 


^n Camp anti Ca&in 

The boulders continued to fall, with an 
occasional thud, but, fortunately, none fell 
while any of us were on our way up. Of 
course the midnight relay could not go to 
work, and most of the workmen never again 
entered the mine. 

At noon the next day, after examining the 
shaft and removing the boulders that were 
likely to fall, three of us went down, sent up 
the gravel from the bottom of the shaft, and 
entered the drifts. The posts all leaned a 
little towards a worked out and abandoned 
mine, which had caved in; the immense 
weight of earth was indicated by the heavy 
timbers being bent over the posts in the form 
of ox yokes; and the great mass of earth over- 
head had settled eight or ten inches. 

After placing posts under the broken tim- 
bers, and adding a few extra beams, we re- 
sumed digging, and although conscious of 
danger, four of us continued the work until 
the "pay dirt" was all removed. 

Discouraged with the prospect at Nevada, 
in company with Robert McCord and Drury 
Farley, I went to the south fork of the Yuba 
River. From the "Sugar Loaf" hill above 
Nevada, we followed a trail among large 
pines and cedar trees, on a broad upland 
between Deer Creek and the Yuba, striking 
into the immigrant road near Cold Spring 


Cottage. Taking the road eastward until we 
found a trail, which we had been told would 
lead us to Jefferson on the Yuba, and follow- 
ing down a steep, winding spur, in about three 
miles we reached a trading post on the river 
bank, with a few deserted cabins in sight. 

This was Jefferson, about twenty-five 
miles from Nevada; the stream, shut in by 
almost perpendicular mountains, was about 
four rods wide and two feet deep; but being 
a series of eddies and cascades it was difficult 
to estimate its size. 

Considerable mining had been done along 
the river, but when the Nevada rnines were 
discovered, these were abandoned; and mer- 
chants, who, at great expense had brought 
their goods, were compelled to pack them to 
other places. 

About a mile above Jefferson, on the river 
bank we found a narrow bar, which had been 
overlooked by the prospectors. Digging down 
to the slate bed rock, and washing a pan of 
gravel, we found about a dollar's worth of 
gold in fine, bright scales. 

This was encouraging; and repairing a 
cast-away rocker, we went to work in earnest, 
made a thorough test of the bar, and in two 
days, with our defective rocker, succeeded in 
taking out over a hundred dollars' worth of 


3^n Camp anti Cafiin 

Next we arranged for putting in a long- 
torn and sluice. We found sufficient lumber 
in the abandoned mines, but it required a 
journey to Nevada to obtain material for 
hose. This was simply strips of stout drilling, 
sewed in the form of a pipe, by which the 
water was conveyed from the river into our 
sluice. While our work on the bar lasted it 
paid well, but in three weeks the narrow 
strip of "pay dirt" had all been washed, and 
we moved to another place. 

In the meantime I became interested in a 
company which was organized at Nevada for 
the purpose of taking provisions and mining 
implements to the north fork of Feather 
River, a place said to be very rich in gold. 

The company numbered twenty, and forty 
mules were loaded, mostly with provisions; 
and eighteen of the company, and the four 
men who owned the mules, started in Novem- 
ber. One of our number, a young man named 
John Donnelley, being ill, as I was profitably 
employed, I concluded to wait for him. 

Saturday, Dec. 14, 1850. This afternoon 
Drury Farley was informed by a messenger, 
that his friend, Anderson Tade, near Nevada, 
with whom I became acquainted on the 
plains, was very ill, and desired him to come. 
As I expected soon to start for Feather River, 
and had business to arrange at Nevada, the 


f urtljer Joining atibenture^ 

next morningMcCord andl accompaniedFar- 
ley, arriving at the city late in the afternoon. 

I now learned of the death, a few days be- 
fore, of my very dear friend, George Matlock, 
with whom I had crossed the plains, and who 
had been instrumental in saving my life. A 
man whose Christian character was more 
than a profession: sweet in spirit, self-deny- 
ing, ready to make sacrifice for the sake of 
others. A leader in every difficult and dan- 
gerous enterprise, and one whose prudent, 
firm, intelligent courage insured success. My 
own father could not have treated me with 
greater kindness than I received from him. 
But alas! alas! the inexpressible loss and 
sorrow of his widow and family when the 
story of his death reaches them in their far 
distant Iowa home. 

Tuesday, Dec. 17, 1850. This day I vis- 
ited Messrs. Zachary Bowers and Abijah 
Davis, acquaintances from Wisconsin, whom 
I found engaged in mining on Deer Creek, 
about two and a half miles below Nevada. 

When I quit work for Mr. Dinkier he paid 
me only a small part of my wages, saying, 
when he had time to wash the gravel, within 
a few days, he would pay the rest. Weeks 
had passed, and now, after three days' failure 
to find him, I began to suspect that he was 
trying to evade me. When told he was at his 


^n Camp anti Cabin 

cabin, and going there, I always found that 
he had just gone. Again and again, when a 
time was set to meet him, where his workmen 
said he expected to be, he failed to appear. 
It was reported that though he had taken 
large quantities of gold from his mines, he 
would never pay a dollar if he could help it. 
At last, learning that tw^o men expected to 
begin work for him in the morning, I went to 
the place at an early hour, and sitting among 
some mine timbers awaited his approach. 

He was promptly on hand, and I, just as 
promptly, claimed his attention. He was 
surprised, but soon regained his presence of 
mind, and said, "I knew you were in the 
city, and if I could pay you, I would have 
hunted you up." "But," said I, "any of 
these grocerymen will lend you, for a few 
daySj the small amount you owe me." 

**0, no, no, no, people don't lend money 
without security." 

"Of course, but you can give security; 
step into this store and we can settle this 
matter in a few minutes." 

"Wait till I get my men at work." 

"Yes, ril wait." 

The men were already at work, lowering 
timbers into the mine, so, with reluctance he 
accompanied me into the store. I explained 
to the merchant the circumstances; that I 


f urtfjcr Joining atibenture^ 

was about to leave, and would he not be so 
kind and obliging as to loan the money to Mr. 
Dinkier for a few days, and, of course, he 
could give ample security. 

"Certainly," said the merchant, "I could 
advance the money, but I believe he has it, 
and if he won't pay you without trouble, he 
would not pay me." 

This seemed to settle the matter, and a 
look of satisfaction came over Dinkler's face, 
as he turned to go out. There was still an- 
other resort, and I resolved to frighten him 
into the payment. 

I sprang before him to the door, and pre- 
senting a pistol, with a loud voice ordered 
him to ''Stop! Now sir, I'm going away this 
morning, but this matter must be settled 
first; you can pay it now, or never have an- 
other chance." 

His voice trembled as he shouted, "Don't, 
don't shoot!" And springing to the counter, 
upon which stood scales for weighing gold, he 
drew from his pocket a large buckskin purse 
of the shining metal, weighed out the amount 
of my claim, and handed it to me. 

The high words and flourish of the pistol 
attracted attention, and men on their way to 
work crowded into the store. The merchant 
explained the matter; and when Mr. Dinkier 
was about to leave, several blocked his way, 


3^n Camp anti Cafiin 

saying: "No, Fred, it's your treat; you in- 
tended to cheat that boy out of his wages: 
now you shall treat the crowd; set out the 

How many were taken I do not know, but 
the amount of the "treat" must have been 
nearly as much as he had owed me. How- 
ever, he silently weighed out the gold, and 
the crowd dispersed. 


Ci^aptet; 3 


WEDNESDAY, Dec. i8, 1850. Re- 
turning to the Yuba, McCord and 
I encountered deep snow on the up- 
lands. For several days there had been heavy- 
rains in the valleys, and at the same time 
snow had fallen to a great depth on the 

After a few days, Donnelley having recov- 
ered from his illness, and being ready for the 
journey to Feather River, joined us at the 
Yuba; but now that the snow was so deep 
and soft, we hesitated about starting on our 
northern trip. However, we improved the 
time in mining; we did a great deal of pros- 
pecting along the river and found an occa- 
sional rich "pocket," but the general outlook 
was not promising. 

Two or three miles above Jefferson, on the 
south bank of the river, stood the deserted 
village of Washington. With a large number 
of vacant cabins it contained several empty 
store buildings and quite a large hotel, closed 
and silent. A few miles farther up, where the 
rocks rose perpendicularly on both sides of the 


3^n Camp anti Cabin 

river, leaving but a narrow margin, was the 
hamlet of Caiionville, entirely deserted. 

Lumber had been sawed, and the river had 
been taken from its channel and carried some 
distance in a flume, thus laying bare the bed, 
but the enterprise did not pay, and after large 
expenditure of time and money was given up. 

Above this there seemed no chance for min- 
ing, as the river ran between perpendicular 
banks of rock. At Washington there were a 
few miners, like ourselves, prospecting, and 
so, in places, along the river. During the past 
summer a vast amount of labor had been ex- 
pended in this vicinity, but it evidently had 
failed to pay expenses. Finding a fair pros- 
pect on Poorman's Creek, a small tributary 
of the Yuba from the north, we built a cabin, 
and for awhile our mining operations were 
quite profitable. 

Wednesday, Jan. i, 1851. This after- 
noon Drury Farley and Thomas Hunt, an 
elder half-brother, arrived from Nevada City, 
bringing the sad news of the death of Mr. 
Anderson Tade, whom, in the closing hours 
of the old year, they had laid by the side of 
his friend and neighbor, Mr. George Matlock. 
His widow and family, whose home is near 
Fort Madison, Iowa, must receive the pain- 
ful message that, while hoping to brighten 
their lives and better their condition, he 


€rpetiittDn to ftatt^a iRiber 

had traveled thus far from them only to 
find a grave. 

Throughout the mining camps there was 
much sickness and many deaths, occasioned, 
doubtless, in part by scanty and stale pro- 
visions, which induced scurvy; also, by work- 
ing in damp places, under ground and in the 
water. With proper food and shelter, the 
climate must be healthful; but the conditions 
under which most miners lived and labored 
invited disease and death, and it was difficult 
to better the conditions. 

Although we had planned to make the trip 
to Feather River before snow had fallen on 
the mountains, and all the company except 
Donnelley and I had gone; while profitably 
employed we were willing to wait, but having 
worked out our mine, and believing that the 
snow on the uplands had settled and become 
hard, we resolved to push out for Feather 

Being joined by nine others, who went as 
prospectors, we decided to start on Monday, 
the 27th of January, 1851. But when the 
morning of our departure dawned, a misty 
rain made us hesitate until 10 a. m., and 
then, like a train of packed mules, we filed up 
the mountain. Besides our blankets, some 
extra clothing, rifles, and ammunition, Don- 
nelley and I carried a pick and spade, pan 


S^n Camp anti Cabin 

for washing gold, frying pan, and tin cups; 
and bread, flour, and bacon enough to last 
two weeks. All were equally well loaded, 
some even more heavily. 

Following up a very steep, rocky spur, 
early in the afternoon we came out on the 
"divide" between the south and middle 
forks of the Yuba. Here the snow was several 
feet in depth, and softened by the mist which 
continued; we sank deeply, and weighed 
down by our heavy burdens, made slow 

About dark, finding a grove of large fir 
trees, and beneath them but little snow, we 
camped, built large fires, prepared supper, 
and placing plenty of fir boughs on the 
ground, over which we spread our blankets, 
"lay down to pleasant dreams." Looking up 
through the long, drooping branches which 
canopied our sleeping apartment, we saw 
that the clouds had cleared away and the 
stars blinked brightly down. 

We prepared breakfast before day, and 
shouldering our packs, were away with the 
dawn. It was our hope that the rain would 
settle the snow and the frost of the past night 
make a crust sufficiently hard to bear us up. 
In this, however, we were disappointed. In 
places we could walk a few steps on the sur- 
face, but we generally broke through, passing 


€jtpetiition to featfter iHiber 

over some shrub or hidden branch, and as the 
snow was very deep, we would sink to our 

Thus we floundered on, and early in the 
afternoon, down through a chaos of cragged 
ravines, and about three miles distant, ob- 
tained a glimpse of the middle fork of the 
Yuba, across which lay our route. In our 
descent at first we were aided by the snow, 
but this gradually became less, and being on 
the north or shady side of the mountain, the 
snow terminated in a vast sheet of ice, over 
which the greatest care was required to keep 
from going down too rapidly. After rolling 
some distance, Mr. McGee, trying to steady 
himself by a small pine, remarked, *'The 
Bible says that the wicked stand in slippery 
places, but I can't and there ain't one in this 
crowd who can." 

Accompanied with a chorus of loud talk, a 
clatter of camp kettles, tin pans and ovens, 
the party at last reached the river. Con- 
sidering the rapidity with which some of us 
came down, and the rocks, crags, and pro- 
jecting roots over which we glided, it was a 
marvel that there were no broken bones; but 
all had suflfered more or less from bruises, 
scratches, and torn clothing. 

Crossing the river on a flume, by an Indian 
trail we ascended the opposite mountain, 


3^11 Camp anti Cabin 

now on the sunny side, and about seven miles 
from the river camped at Indian Creek. 

Wednesday, Jan. 29. Making an early 
start, we ascended a steep, rocky, treeless 
spur about two miles, and then entered upon 
a slope, mantled with large pine, fir, and 
cedar trees and crossed with an occasional 
cliff. For awhile our path was quite pleasant, 
but on the uplands we again encountered 
snow, and, as we ascended each slope, it be- 
came deeper, until only the tree tops ap- 
peared above its surface. Fortunately, it was 
hard enough to bear us up, unless we trod in 
the vicinity of a tree top, when we were liable 
to go down among the branches. 

As we advanced, the great summit ridge of 
the Sierra Nevada toward the northeast 
towered above forest and cliff, and reminded 
me of my first lessons in the old English 

"The increasing prospect tires our wandering eyes, 
Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps arise." 

Descending the mountain through a magnifi- 
cent forest of the usual pine, fir, and cedar, 
about dark we camped on the mountain 
side half a mile from Downieville, a mining 
village at the forks of the North Yuba. 

Thursday, Jan. 30. The sky being over- 
cast with clouds, and a slight rain falling, 


^jcpebition to f eatfjec iltiber 

made us hesitate about starting, and in the 
meantime one of our company came into 
camp saying, " I reckon somebody has struck 
it rich down there, and covered up their 
prospect hole so as to hide it." 

With picks, shovels, and pans, three of us 
accompanied him to the bottom of a deep, 
wild glen; not that we intended to **jump" 
any one's claim, but as a possible clue to 
diggings above and below on this side of the 
river. There was no snow, and on the mossy 
bank of a rill could be seen the outlines where 
the ground had been broken; but the turf 
was so nicely adjusted that but few traces 
were visible. 

Spading away the soft earth to the depth 
of about three feet, we found — not a gold 
mine, but that which made us start back 
with horror — a blue shirt sleeve on the arm 
of a corpse. Gently the body was uncovered 
and raised to the surface; water was brought 
and, washing away the mire, disclosed the 
features of a young man, of probably twenty 
years; about five feet in height; dark brown 
hair; his only clothing a blue woolen shirt, 
dark brown pantaloons, and heavy boots. 

His pockets were empty and there was 
nothing about him to reveal his name. Traces 
on each side of his head indicating where a 
bullet had passed through, were the only 


^Tn Camp anti Cabin 

marks of violence upon his person. Evidently 
he had been murdered but a few days since 
and his body concealed in this wild glen. 

Tears filled our eyes as we thought of his 
untimely fate, and that father, mother, 
brothers, and sisters may lovingly await his 
return until hope deferred makes the heart 
sick. The death-sealed lips could not reveal 
the name of the murderer to men, but there 
is a Witness who knows all about it, and 
sometime the criminal will stand at the judg- 
ment bar of God. 

The remains were taken to Downieville, 
and without being identified, were buried 
there. Long afterward, when passing, I 
made diligent inquiry, and learned that no 
knowledge of the man's name, friends, or 
home had been found. To use a phrase com- 
mon among mountaineers, he had been 
"rubbed out." 

In and about Downieville some very rich 
mines had been discovered, but at this time 
the place seemed overrun with prospectors. 
While some were making fortunes, and 
others doing fairly well, a great many, with- 
out mines or work, were in desperate straits. 

Some of our company found acquaintances 
and concluded to remain. Late in the after- 
noon the rest of us left the village, and as- 
cending the northern mountain about eight 


aEjepeDition to ftatf^tt Utiber 

miles, camped in a dense forest; where, shov- 
eling away the snow, and spreading boughs 
of fir and cedar on which to lay our blankets, 
we made a comfortable place to sleep. 

The older members of our company were 
greatly fatigued with wading the deep snow, 
and those who were younger relieved them of 
part of their burden. But with all the toil 
and exposure, there is something invigorating 
in this mountain air which sharpens the ap- 
petite and promotes health, so that some of 
our party seem never to tire. John Cheny, a 
young man of eighteen, strong and healthy, 
greatly enjoys this out-door life. This after- 
noon he carried a fifty-pound sack of flour, 
his blankets, pick, shovel, and gun, and yet, 
in the steepest and worst part of the journey, 
he relieved an elderly man of a large roll of 

As for victuals, we have learned to simplify 
the process of cooking, and perhaps to regard 
quantity rather than quality. When the 
campfire is built, a mass of snow, held near it 
on a wooden fork, soon becomes like a well 
filled sponge and furnishes water for coffee 
and drinking purposes. 

Also in making bread, a little snow is put 
into the mouth of a sack of flour and kneaded 
carefully until a stiff dough is formed; then 
lifting it out, it is molded with the hands until 


^n Camp antJ Cabin 

of proper consistency for bread. It is then 
suspended near the fire, on a bough, with 
several branches cut and sharpened for the 
purpose. Turning it occasionally, the cake is 
soon thoroughly baked. 

Sometimes a slice of bacon is suspended 
on a wooden fork by the fire and as it fries, 
the fat is permitted to fall on the bread, thus 
making it more palatable. It is astonishing 
how small a culinary outfit is really needed. 

Just above our camp stood several large 
dead pines, probably fire killed, but over- 
grown, from bottom to top, with long, yellow 
moss. After dark we set this on fire and the 
flames soon streamed far above the woods, 
making immense torches, and illuminating 
our camp; and, as the wood was filled with 
pitch, they continued to burn most of the 

After all my companions had lain down to 
sleep, while writing up my journal, I noticed 
that one of the burning trees was about to 
fall, and, fearing it might come down upon 
the camp, I watched it until there was evi- 
dence that it would fall across the rocky 
slope above us. Therefore, without waking 
my companions, I spread down my blanket, 
and was about to join them on our bough- 
built bunk, when the tree fell; it broke into 
several pieces on the rocks and one great fiery 


^rpetJition to f eatfjer iUibec 

mass, rolling directly over our bed, stopped 
against the logs which composed our camp- 

The crash awakened the sleepers, and 
while they all escaped, there was no time to 
remove the bedding. However, shaking the 
coals from the blankets, and changing the 
boughs to another place, most of them were 
soon again sleeping soundly. 

Meanwhile, John Cheny planned to bring 
two m.ore pieces of the burning tree, and 
with the three great logs piled together, have 
a splendid campfire. With considerable effort 
he brought the second piece, then prepared 
skids and aroused the camp to help him bring 
the third, but the others were too tired and 
sleepy to respond. Finally McGee advised 
him to lie down and not disturb them. 

"Well," replied Cheny, ** we'll not leave 
here till morning anyway, and we might as 
well be rolling logs as doing nothing else." 

This was his characteristic: rest and sleep 
seemed quite unnecessary; so he persevered, 
obtained help, and when the three immense 
logs were properly grouped, and wrapped in 
roaring flames, he lay down to enjoy his 
watch-fire, and was soon asleep. 

Friday, Jan. 31. A severe frost so hard- 
ened the snow that we walked on the surface, 
and taking an early start, were soon above 


9^n Camp anti Cabin 

the line of heavy timber, and by noon, up a 
slippery ascent, reached the Yuba Caps, a 
mass of perpendicular rocks which crown 
the summit of the mountain. The younger 
members of the company had an ambition to 
climb these rocks; this, however, we found to 
be impracticable at this side, but from their 
base we obtained a magnificent view of the 
Sacramento Valley and the Coast Range. 

Around the bottom of these rocks the snow 
was almost perpendicular, with a surface of 
hard, smooth ice. There was no alternative 
but to cut footsteps in the snow, and thus 
pass around toward the right. As the work 
was very laborious, we took turns, one going 
forward with the hatchet, and the others 
following in his footsteps. In places it was so 
steep as to require handholds as well as foot- 
steps, and some experienced great difficulty 
in keeping their balance, as they looked down 
from the dizzy height, which we estimated at 
about a mile, where, if one missed his footing, 
he must fall. 

In looking down, it seemed like one un- 
broken sheet of icy snow; but we knew, a 
discovery made while coming up the moun- 
tain, that it was crossed by several precipices 
of great height. Just how far it was around 
the Yuba Caps, we could hardly guess; to us 
it seemed about two miles, and it was a relief 

1 60 

(Cjcpctittion to fmtt^tt tii\ytt 

when, crossing the "divide" toward the 
north, we again reached the timber line. 

At Cafion Creek, in a grove of small fir 
trees, we made a place to camp, by shoveling 
away the snow, which was about four feet 

Saturday, Feb. i. The day was bright and 
cold, and we made good progress over snow 
of great depth. In a small valley we found 
a place where wolves had burrowed in the 
snow and brought to the surface tufts of hair, 
which indicated that horses or mules had 
perished there. We passed it without special 
attention, but the next afternoon, descend- 
ing from the divide to Downie's Diggings on 
Poorman's Creek, we found James Ward, one 
of our company who had left Nevada last 
fall, painfully going about on crutches, and 
from him we learned the secret of the wolf 

He informed us that they had had a very 
pleasant trip to the north fork of Feather 
River, where they pitched their camp and 
prepared for a winter's work. He and four 
others then undertook to bring the forty 
mules back to Nevada City. Some time in 
December, while on the divide, they were 
overtaken by a severe snow storm, and took 
shelter for the night in the valley above 
named. 'By morning they were snowed in, 


3^n Camp anti Cabin 

and after remaining two days, and the storm 
still continuing, feeling sure that the mules 
must perish, they tried to save themselves by 
going back to Downie's Diggings. 

The snow had whitened the trees and 
rocks, and as it still continued to fall, the 
outlines of the mountains could not be seen; 
consequently they lost their way, disagreed 
as to the proper direction, and separated. 
Ward and one other took one direction, and 
the three others the opposite, and, so far as I 
have been able to learn, they were never 
again heard from. 

Ward and his companion struggled through 
the snow during the day; at night, climbing 
down the branches of a fir tree, they buried 
themselves in the snow, and, as they had 
blankets and provisions, were quite com- 
fortable. But the following day was in- 
tensely cold, and the next morning, coming 
out of their shelter from under the snow, 
they could not agree as to the direction, and 
finally they separated. Fortunately, the same 
day Ward was found by his brother Thomas, 
who had a mine on Poorman's Creek, and 
was crossing the ridge to Onion Valley on 

It seemed the merest chance that they 
should meet, and had James followed the 
ridge in the direction he was going when 


oErpetiition to ftatt^tt Utiitt 

found, he would have passed the only camp 
for many miles, and must have perished. As 
it was, his feet were so badly frozen that for 
more than a month he was unable to walk 
without help. 

After considerable search his companion 
was found on a rock on the summit of a high 
ridge which he had climbed, evidently, in 
the hope of seeing some landmark to guide 
him on his way; but, overcome with cold, he 
had frozen to death. 

At Downie's Diggings, on Poorman's 
Creek, Donnelley and I reluctantly parted 
from those who had accompanied us from 
Poorman*s Creek near the South Yuba; both 
streams, we were told, deriving their names 
from the same pioneer miner, Mr. Poorman. 
Having obtained all the information possible 
from Mr. Ward as to our route and the lo- 
cation of our company, we replenished our 
stock of provisions and were ready to pursue 
the journey. 

Monday, Feb. 3. From nearly the summit 
of the divide between the Yubas and Feather 
River, we followed down Poorman's Creek to 
its junction with Hopkins' Creek, then down 
this to Nelson's Creek, occasionally com- 
pelled by impassable canons to leave the 
valley and cross high, steep, rocky, and icy 
spurs. About dark we waded Nelson's Creek, 


3^n Camp anti Cabin 

and ascending the mountain side camped 
among thickets of manzanita, which furn- 
ished a supply of excellent fuel for our camp- 

The morning was fair, but in the afternoon 
clouds gathered, and a slight rain fell, which 
made us regret our shelterless condition; but 
when we lay down to sleep beside our camp- 
fire the rain had ceased and the stars twin- 
kled encouragingly above us. 

The next day was pleasant and we made 
good progress over a high mountain, and 
toward night descended into a creek valley, 
where we found the tracks of a puma, or 
California lion. We spent some time in hunt- 
ing it, but from what we afterward learned 
respecting the size and ferocious nature of 
these animals, it was just as well that we 
failed to find it. 

One object in selecting our route and mak- 
ing our journey in this way was to obtain a 
general knowledge of the gold mines. We 
might have selected an easier way, but we 
wanted to visit the best mining region, and 
this took us across the spurs of the great 
Sierra Nevada. 

Heretofore we had found plenty of miners 
at work, and could gather information from 
them; now, however, we were beyond the 
usual range of prospectors, and we therefore 


OBjtrpetittion to ftat^tt tii\}tt 

made it a point to examine the bed and banks 
of all the streams we passed, hoping to find 
gold in such quantities as to make profit- 
able a return at some future time. Not find- 
ing even a trace of gold along the creek, 
night closed our work; and kindling a large 
campfire, we cooked supper, and were soon 
asleep. > 

Wednesday, Feb. 5. Our way led over a 
high, steep, heavily timbered mountain, on 
which the snow was very deep, and just at 
sunset we began the descent to the middle 
fork of Feather River. The deep snow at 
first rather assisted, but, terminating in ice, 
the way became more steep, and was crossed 
by an occasional cliff. 

While the light lasted we could mark our 
way and slide from tree to tree, and some- 
times, by rocks and branches of trees, swing 
ourselves down the ledges; but clouds over- 
cast the sky, the light faded, and darkness 
became intense long before we reached the 
river. At times, as we lingered on the brink 
of some precipice and tried to rest or plan for 
the next move, it seemed as though we could 
neither retain our position nor go on with 

A pack of mountain wolves were on our 
trail and their fierce howls, mingled with the 
deep bass of the river reverberating from 


3^n Camp anli Cabin 

the canon below, and all strangely softened 
and subdued by the sigh of" the pines around 
us, seemed intoning a dirge in weird, de- 
pressing voices from out the night. 

At last we reached the river in safety, 
somewhat bruised and scratched, but just 
how we made the trip in the dark it is 
doubtful whether either of us could tell. 
Donnelley had his outfit intact; I had lost my 
haversack, containing my Bible, writing 
material, journal, and most of my ammu- 
nition. As I stumbled on the brink of a 
precipice it had slipped over my head and 
fallen below the cliff. 

Kindling a fire on a little sandbar, we soon 
had the wolves at bay. As our guns were 
wet, we took off the barrels, placed the 
breech in the fire, and, when sufficiently dry, 
they were fired, wiped, and reloaded. Then, 
after supper, replenishing our fire, or rather, 
from a large pile of driftwood, building two, 
we lay down on the sand between them and 
the wolves serenaded us until we slept. 

The next morning while Donnelley pre- 
pared breakfast I went in search of my hav- 
ersack, which I found lying at the foot of 
a precipice over a hundred feet high. As I 
looked up and thought how near I had come 
to falling over it in the darkness, a cold 
shudder crept over me. 


(Crpebition to f eatfjer iHiber 

It was our intention to cross the river at 
this point, but we had descended into a caiTon, 
and the swift current and perpendicular 
banks warned us not to make the attempt. 
So we spent the entire day in search of a 
crossing, and at night camped on the same 
side, several miles below. The threatened 
storm had passed and the sky was clear, but 
being on the shady side of the great moun- 
tain, we scarcely saw the sun, and our way 
was very icy and dangerous. 

The next morning we found a place where 
the water was not very swift, but, without an 
axe, we were unable to obtain logs large 
enough to float ourselves across. However, 
preparing a little raft of dry branches, and 
placing our guns, packs, and clothing there- 
on, we pushed it boldly into the deep^ clear 
current, and were soon at the opposite bank. 
The river was fringed with ice, and cold as 
was the water, the air seemed even colder, 
and made our teeth chatter with the chill; 
but hastily dressing, and shouldering our 
loads, the exercise of climbing the mountain 
soon warmed us up. 

After making the ascent and crossing some 
deep ravines we found an Indian trail, and 
as it lay in our course, followed it. After 
several miles it descended to the head of 
a small stream, down which we were led 


2Fn Camp anti Cabin 

through a broad and beautiful valley, at 
night-fall camping on its bank. 

Saturday, Feb. 8. Early this morning, 
leaving the stream to our left, we crossed 
some heavily timbered hills, the earth being 
a beautiful bright red, and in the afternoon 
came to what seemed to us the same stream 
we had left in the morning, though now much 
larger; we crossed it, followed down some 
distance, crossed again, and camped. 

At both crossings the water was so deep 
that we were compelled to undress, in order 
to ford it without getting our clothes wet. 
The sensations produced by wading to the 
arms in such a current, breaking the ice and 
climbing out on a snow-covered rock and 
dressing in a frosty atmosphere, can only be 
known by experience. Anyway, after the 
last crossing we danced around our blazing 
campfire a long time before we ceased to 

Last night there came a storm of sleet, 
after which the air became very cold and 
continued so all day. Crossing some moun- 
tain-like hills, about noon we came, as we 
supposed, to the north fork of Feather River, 
near the forks. 

Finding a place where the current ran 
deep and smooth, when our preparations 
were complete we hurriedly undressed and 


oErpetiition to ftatt^tt iSiber 

pushed through, finding it not only cold, but 
difficult and dangerous. However, we suc- 
ceeded in getting all our traps safely over, 
but with the feeling that another such effort 
might be fatal to us both; and when after- 
ward we returned to the same place we dared 
not attempt to cross. 

It was our intention to follow up the north 
branch of this stream, but we were com- 
pelled, on account of its canons and steep 
banks, to ascend the mountain which ter- 
minated between the forks, and thus keep in 
sight of the valley of the north branch. Here 
again we struck an Indian trail in the snow 
and pursued it until it reached the head of a 
wide prairie-like slope, where we camped. 

As we came up and along the mountain, 
we saw a line of marsh (cattail) flags tied to- 
gether, and suspended from tree to tree. 
Beginning at a point near the river, it as- 
cended the mountain, and after following 
along the ridge for several miles, diverged 
from our course, and we left it. It seemed too 
frail to mark a boundary line; doubtless it 
was the work of Indians, and we were greatly 
puzzled to know what it meant. 

Monday, Feb. lo. At dawn we were on 
our way, and late in the afternoon reached a 
small valley surrounded with a belt of large 
pines. Across this the snow was marked with 


^Tn Camp anb Cabin 

Indian paths, and smoke arising from the 
woods at the foot of a mountain spur re- 
vealed the place of their village. 

Having been warned that these Indians 
were hostile, we hesitated about leaving the 
shelter of the timber, and yet realized that 
we were dangerously near the town. Putting 
fresh caps on our rifles and pistols and closely 
scanning the openings around, we took a 
main path, so as not to excite suspicion, even 
though seen from a distance, and hurrying 
across the open flat, were soon again under 
cover of the woods. 

Here we found a trail leading to a small 
brook; following up this, and walking in the 
water, where our tracks could not be seen, we 
went about a mile up the creek. Then taking 
oflF our boots and tying our pantaloons close 
to our ankles, so that our footprints in the 
snow resembled moccasin tracks, we crossed 
a low, timbered ridge, over a mile northward 
to another small brook. Here we wrung the 
moisture from our socks, put on our boots, 
and followed up the rill several miles, into a 
deep canon, where we camped. 

As we were compelled to have a fire, not 
only to warm ourselves, for the night was 
very cold, but to dry our boots and socks, 
which had become very wet while walking in 
the water and snow, we built it in the most 


OEjtpetiitiDn to ftatfytt iSiber 

secluded place we could find, under an over- 
hanging rock at the side of the canon, in 
front of which a large pine had fallen from 
the cliff above. Peeling some of the bark 
from the dead pine and laying it on the snow 
furnished quite a good floor, and a comforta- 
ble place on which to spread our blankets. 

Here we cooked the last of our flour, 
moulding it into five small biscuits. These, 
with about half a pound of bacon, con- 
stituted our entire supply of provisions. 
Each taking a biscuit and a slice of raw bacon 
for supper, we lay down to sleep. 

The proximity of the Indian village ex- 
cited our fears, lest we had been discovered 
and might be attacked during the night, and 
our sleep was hardly as sound as usual. 
Toward morning a noise aroused me, but 
not fully; however, Donnelley gave me a 
shake, and said in a hoarse whisper, ** They're 
coming, they're coming," and in an in- 
stant we were on our feet, with rifles ready 
in hand. 

The fallen tree furnished a good breast- 
work, the fire had smouldered into darkness, 
and we stood listening in breathless silence. 
At first it sounded like the hurrying tread of 
many feet coming into the canon a short 
distance above us; then there was stillness, 
and again a renewal of the noise. When day 


3^n Camp anti Cabin 

began to dawn we crept along under the 
shadow of the cliff and discovered that our 
fright had been caused by a small avalanche 
which had slid into the canon, and was fol- 
lowed, at intervals, by masses of snow and 
rock. Possibly if we had not been fearing 
Indians it would not have disturbed us. 

Ascending from our canon, we took a 
northwesterly direction over deep snow and 
among pine, fir, and cedar trees of immense 
size. The air was piercing cold, and notwith- 
standing our constant struggle in the snow, 
we found it necessary to kindle a fire occa- 
sionally and thaw out. 

This was easily done. The action of the 
wind generally cleared away the snow, leav- 
ing quite a space around the base of each 
tree, often, where the snow was deep enough, 
to the depth of eight or ten feet. So when we 
found a dead pine, we simply climbed down 
and set the moss and pitch on fire, and when 
warmed up climbed out and pursued our 

During the day we noticed several land- 
marks which had been described to us by 
Mr. Ward while we were at Downie's Dig- 
gings; and about noon we looked down into 
the valley of the north fork of Feather River. 
A wide plain, "The Big Meadows," stretched 
far to the northward, and near the upper 


€rpetittion to ftatt^tt iSiber 

extremity of these Meadows we were to find 
our company. 

Our exertions were redoubled, and before 
night we had crossed the immigrant road and 
were near the upper boundary of the plain. 
This was indicated by a dark line of timber, 
behind which arose an array of glittering 
heights, which we supposed was the summit 
ridge of the Sierra Nevada. Some time after 
dark we turned into a grove near the river, 
kindled a fire, broke off a quantity of fir 
branches, spread them on the snow for a bed, 
and lay down and slept soundly until 


Ci^apter 4 


WEDNESDAY, Feb. 12. This morn- 
ing, chilled by the keen night air, 
it was sometime before we were 
warmed up. With our utmost exertions, it 
was late in the afternoon when we reached 
the timber at the upper extremity of the Big 
Meadows. Ascending a high, bleak point, in 
hopes of seeing some signs of our company, 
Donnelley, who was first on the summit, ex- 
claimed; "There they are; there they are," 
pointing to several columns of smoke curling 
above a dense forest about a mile distant. 

For awhile we were delighted with the 
prospect of a plentiful supper and a com- 
fortable night's rest. But all this vanished 
when, through an opening, we caught a 
glimpse of several Indian wigwams. We had 
found another Indian village, and were 
anxious to avoid the place which at first we 
had hailed with so much delight. The town 
was in the direction we wanted to go, and it 
was difficult to make a detour on either side 
without great labor and loss of time, owing 
to the nature of the surrounding country. 


€f)c iHeturn from f eatf^er Utiytt 

Following the ridge we were on would 
enable us to pass the town at a considerable 
distance; but we would almost certainly be 
discovered on the snow; even the night would 
hardly conceal us. We therefore resolved to 
go down into the timber and pass the village 
in the night. 

It was now about sunset, and finding a place 
of shelter and concealment, we waited until 
the woods became dark; then, taking off our 
boots, we tied them to our packs. Fortunately 
we each had an extra pair of socks; these we 
put on, drawing the worn ones over them, tied 
down our pantaloons, and made our way. 

Thinking it best to follow their paths in 
the snow, so as to avoid being tracked, we 
were brought nearer the village than we 
would otherwise have gone, and at one time 
supposed we had been discovered. We heard 
the tramp and saw the dimly outlined forms 
of several Indians coming towards us. 

Stepping closely to the side of a large pine, 
we stood shoulder to shoulder with our rifles 
leveled toward the group. Escape seemed 
impossible, death inevitable, and our only 
hope, to die suddenly, and thus escape tor- 
ture. We commended our souls to God. 
Donnelley was a devout Roman Catholic, 
and, in low breath, prayed fervently, ''Jesus, 
Mary, and Joseph, have mercy on us." 


S^n Camp anti €a6m 

We had actually surrendered all into the 
hands of God, and He had mercy on us. The 
Indians turned along another path and dis- 
appeared among the trees. It seemed like 
coming back to life. Hope revived and we 
hurried on. About midnight, finding a dead 
pine, from which we stripped a large piece of 
bark, we laid it on the snow for a bed. We 
dared not kindle a fire, but, eating a biscuit 
and a slice of raw bacon, greatly exhausted 
with fatigue and hunger, but grateful to God 
for our lives, we lay down and slept. 

Thursday, Feb. 13. Chilled and benumbed, 
we were awake when the first traces of dawn 
appeared. Hastily folding our blankets, in 
hopes of finding some sign of our company we 
ascended above the timber line, frequently 
pausing to scan the woods and vales below. 
Sunrise found us on the summit, between 
two cone-like peaks. The immense scrolls of 
snow which crested the mountain flashed in 
the red sunlight, and presented a scene 
beautiful and grand beyond description. 

Here we ate the last of our provisions, one 
small biscuit and a morsel of raw bacon. It 
seemed rather to sharpen our appetites, but 
we were excusable for not eating more. 

Then, from various positions we anxiously 
scanned the landscape. There was the cliff; 
clustered pines in the river bend; the rocky 


€lje tittnm from f eatl^er i!iber 

point with its five dead pines; all of which 
Mr. Ward had described to us; but there 
were no recent signs of white men. 

Under other circumstances the scene would 
have charmed us, but now a strange fear of 
not finding our company began to haunt us. 
Descending to the valley of the stream, we 
followed it up until noon, and still no traces 
of white men. All was silent as the grave, save 
the murmur of the river and the sigh of the 
pine tops. 

Again we ascended a high ridge and took 
another long, anxious look. The hills seemed 
solemn and stern, the dark lines of timber 
appeared cheerless. Far over the snowy 
ridges we could see the towering summit of 
Mount Shasta, rising like a marble pyramid 
in the sky. Painful as was the thought, we 
were compelled to give up all hope of find- 
ing our company. Whether they had been 
butchered by the Indians, or had crossed the 
mountains to Klamath River, we could only 
guess; but we were satisfied that for months 
they had not been where Mr. Ward had left 

Since approaching the immigrant road we 
had found places where camps had been 
established and trees chopped; and so at the 
point where we expected to find our company; 
but there was no evidence that any white 


3^n €amp anb Cabin 

man haei visited these places since the snow 
fell. Not having a list of their names, we were 
unable to inquire for them personally in the 
Klamath, Pitt River, or other mines where 
they might have gone. A strange mystery 
enshrouded their fate, and what became of 
them we never learned, but we strongly sus- 
pected that the whole party of eighteen were 
surprised and killed by Indians. 

But what were we to do? The unexpected 
had happened. Entirely destitute of pro- 
visions and already weakened with hunger, 
when we thought of the long distance to the 
nearest mining camp of which we knew, 
there seemed scarcely a hope that we could 
make the return trip. 

However, as every hour of delay rendered 
escape less certain, we turned back and fol- 
lowed down the river with all possible speed. 
It was a journey for life, and we did our best. 
Stripping some bark from the sugar pine, we 
chewed it while passing along, and some time 
between midnight and morning we passed 
the upper Indian village, without paying 
much attention to the paths, and at the edge 
of the Big Meadows crept into a jungle of 
drooping firs to obtain a few hours* rest and 

In all our journey there had been an unac- 
countable absence of game. When we began 


€f)e iHetuttt from ftatfytt itibcr 

it wolves were generally within hearing at 
night, but we had not seen a deer, pheas- 
ant, or even a rabbit, though for several days 
we had been constantly on the watch for 
them. Possibly the deep snows had driven 
them from this region, or it may be that the 
Indians had taken all the game within their 

We were not prepared with hook and line 
to try the streams for fish, but wherever we 
examined the rivers we had failed to find 
any, and, consequently, were not able to 
add anything to our original supply of pro- 
visions. We would gladly have slaughtered 
even a wolf for our supper, but in our ex- 
tremity they, too, kept strangely out of our 

Friday, Feb. 14. Although suffering ex- 
tremely from hunger, we walked rapidly all 
day, and about sunset entered the timber at 
the lower extremity of the Big Meadows. It 
was our intention and hope to pass the In- 
dian village during the night, but we were too 
tired to continue the journey. Fully con- 
scious of the danger of remaining near the 
village, or trying to pass it in daylight, yet, 
in utter exhaustion, we crept into a clump of 
firs and slept several hours. 

Before day the journey was resumed. Our 
sleep rested us somewhat, but the chill had 


^Tn Camp anti CaBin 

so stiffened our joints that for awhile we 
made but little progress. However, in the 
morning twilight we safely passed the village, 
and about a mile below, struck the trail by 
which we had come up the river. 

We were beginning to feel relieved of dan- 
ger from Indians and were congratulating our- 
selves that escape now depended only upon 
our physical endurance, when, lo, we were 
hailed; and there, only a few rods in front, 
where our path swayed to the left, at the 
head of a ravine, up which, evidently, they 
had just come, stood two tall Indians, mak- 
ing signs for us to approach them. 

" Don't let them think we are afraid," said 
Donnelley, and we promptly started toward 
them, instantly agreeing that we must make 
them travel with us that day, and not permit 
them to report us at their village, if we could 
possibly prevent it. 

They were armed with bows and arrows, 
with small hunting knives in their belts, and 
as we came near, made signs, pointing to us, 
and then to the path, in the direction toward 
their town. 

Donnelley, with one hand upon his pistol, 
with the other pointed first toward them and 
then to the path in the opposite direction. 
As we expected, they were inclined to resist. 
One succeeded in placing an arrow in his 


€l)e Mttmn from ftatt^tt iliber 

bow, but before he could raise it, Donnelley 
surprised him by presenting a pistol near his 
face. He understood what it meant and 
dropped the arrow. 

At the same instant, before the other had 
placed the arrow in his bow, but held it in 
his right hand, anxious to avoid the report 
of firearms, I drew my hunting knife and 
grasped him by the shoulder; but Donnelley, 
fearing that he might seize me, leveled the 
pistol at his head. 

With a quick movement, I drew a pistol, 
stepped back, and leveled it. Dropping the 
arrow, they both stood for a moment as if 
undecided and angry, but seeing that we had 
them in our power, they turned, and talking 
to each other, took the path, and we, put- 
ting up our pistols, followed a short dis- 
tance behind. Presently they stopped, and 
evidently were about to raise a yell, but our 
rifles were quickly leveled upon them, and 
again they turned and pursued the path be- 
fore us. 

They kept watch of us every moment, and 
several times slackened their pace and acted 
as though they intended to turn upon us; 
when at the click of our locks, as we prepared 
to shoot, they would increase their pace; but 
they compelled our most diligent and con- 
stant attention. 


3^n Camp anb Cabiti 

In our weakened condition it was a terrible 
strain upon our nerves, for there was in our 
minds the inexpressible dread that we might 
have to shoot those Indians in order to save 
our own lives. The awful specter of death 
which haunted us, seemed to take away our 
sense of hunger and weariness, and no doubt 
under the excitement we traveled farther 
than we would otherwise have done. Near 
sunset we gave them to understand that they 
might return, which they did with an ap- 
parent good will. 

We were sorry to compel them to travel all 
day without anything to eat, but in that 
respect we all fared alike. We would gladly 
have given them a good dinner, and valuable 
presents to remember us by, but we were 
pleased that our relations had been no more 

We would rejoice to have gained their 
good will, but under the circumstances it 
seemed impossible, and it is doubtful wheth- 
er the next white men whom they met were 
treated with the same consideration be- 
stowed upon us. Fearing lest they might 
lurk on our trail and attack us during the 
night, from the shelter of a thicket we 
watched their retreating forms until they 
disappeared several miles distant. After this 
we traveled about five miles, and, obtaining 


€fte iHetum from f eatl^er lUiber 

a supply of pine bark to chew, crept into a 
jungle in hopes of finding rest and sleep. 

Sunday, Feb. i6. With the first traces of 
dawn we were again on our way. We did not 
suffer very much from hunger, but, as we 
warmed up with exercise, we felt feverish, 
and for awhile traveled with comparative 
ease. I noticed that Donnelley's eyes were 
swollen and bloodshot, and at times we 
staggered from the path. 

Passmg near the brink of a steep ravine, 
Donnelley remarked, ''Very likely there is 
gold down there," and pausing, we seemed 
to hear the sound of voices. Listen- 
ing, the tones were very distinct, but we 
could not distinguish the words. Then came 
the sound of digging with a pick, the scraping 
of a shovel on the rock, and the peculiar noise 
made by shoveling gravel into a tin pan. 

Confident that a company of prospectors 
were at work in the ravine, we at once de- 
scended, not doubting but they could afford 
us something to eat. However, we failed to 
find the slightest trace of any human being. 
The snow lay undisturbed even by the foot 
of a rabbit, and the voices and sounds were 
purely imaginary. Listening, we heard them 
again, just above us, in a bend of the ravine, 
but when we reached the place, there were no 


3^n Camjj anti Cabin 

For some time we were inclined to follow 
the illusion; our dismay was inexpressible. 
We did so want to make it true, but at last, 
realizing that we were only wasting time, we 
climbed out of our ravine and, fortunately, 
found our path. 

Strangely enough, both of us seemed to 
hear whatever we listened for. Sometimes it 
was human voices, but never an articulate 
word, and sometimes it was the clang of 
mining operations. Several times we were 
tempted to turn from our path, and it was 
difficult to realize that the sounds were only 
illusions of the mind. 

About noon we descended to the river 
where we crossed when coming up, but, look- 
ing at the distance and the swift, angry cur- 
rent, we realized that it would be impossible 
in our exhausted condition to cross in safety. 
We therefore turned down the river, hoping, 
at least, to find a safer crossing. 

However, in several miles, we were sur- 
prised and delighted to find Mountaineer 
Lawson's mining camp. There were several 
white men and Pah Ute Indians working a 
placer mine on the bank of the river. Coming 
down the river, we saw that what we had 
taken for the valley of the north fork of 
Feather River was only a deep gulch, and 
the main stream, which we had visited above 


€l)e iSeturn from ftati^tt Mitytt 

the Big Meadows, lay over the mountains 
toward the northwest. 

From Mr. Lawson we obtained some flour 
and bacon, and in a few minutes I had a cake 
baking in one of their skillets. While waiting 
for the cake, Lawson, who was familiar with 
all that region, inquired of Donnelley about 
our journey, which was candidly described. 
Whereupon Lawson bluffly replied, ''Don't 
tell me any such stuff as that; I know that 
country; it's not far from a hundred and 
sixty miles; you fellows never made that trip 
without eating.*' 

In a moment we were very angry, and 
Donnelley laid his hand upon his pistol; but 
Lawson repeated, "Don't tell me any such 
stuff." He evidently did not believe what 
Donnelley had said, and we, having our 
veracity questioned and our honor con- 
temned, were at once on our dignity and in 
no condition to reason or explain, and as we 
had already paid for the flour and bacon, we 
indignantly refused to have any further con- 
versation with him. 

After eating a little we both experienced 
nausea, and for awhile were unable to travel; 
gradually, however, the feeling passed away, 
and gathering up the fragments of our din- 
ner, we hurried away, and camped at some 
distance down the river. By occasionally 


5Fn Camp and Cafiin 

eating a little our stomachs regained their 
natural tone, but it was several days before 
our mental vision became clear. 

The next day we did some prospecting 
along the river, and finally, crossing on a 
large pine which had been felled, camped 
with a company of prospectors. 

Tuesday, Feb. i8. Our long spell of fair 
weather terminated last night in a snow 
storm, and this morning in the open camp 
found us literally snowed under, and the snow 
still falling. We had scarcely more pro- 
visions than were needed for breakfast, but 
on our way back to Downie's Diggings we 
expected to replenish our stock at the Amer- 
ican Ranch, a place somewhere on the way 
to the middle fork of Feather River. 

Ascending the mountain among large trees, 
everything enveloped with the same white 
mantle, with neither sun nor outlined hill in 
sight, we wallowed through the snow most of 
the forenoon, and finally disagreed as to our 
course. Whether we were going east or west 
neither could be absolutely certain, but each 
felt sure he was right. Donnelley had our 
pocket compass and I wanted him^ to ex- 
amine it, but he was so sure of being right 
that he refused, and finally I told him I 
would not go in that direction any farther. 
Angry words followed, and suddenly he aimed 


€l&e Jdeturn from ftatt^n iSiber 

his rifle at me. In an instant I leveled a pistol 
on him. Thus we stood for a moment. The 
Good Providence prevented our shooting. 

Donnelley was first to understand the situ- 
ation, and threw his rifle into the snow, where 
it sunk out of sight. As he picked it out of the 
snow, I knew it was too wet to fire, so putting 
up my pistol, I turned away, and there we 

I felt very badly. Hot tears trickled down 
my cheeks. We had crossed the plains to- 
gether, had always been fast friends, and no 
shadow had ever before darkened our broth- 
erly love. Strangely bewildered, I went on 
in the direction which I supposed led to the 
American Ranch. 

In about an hour Donnelley again appeared, 
converging toward me, and when we met he 
simply said, "I believe this is the right direc- 
tion," and we never mentioned to each other 
our terrible episode. But words could not^ex- 
press my joy in the consciousness that we 
were still friends. 

I learned through our mutual friend, 
Robert McCord, that after we separated, 
Donnelley looked at the compass, and of 
course it was the merest accident that I 
happened to be right; had we slain each 
other there in the woods, it has seemed 
to me, that, because our minds were so 


2Fn Camp anti Cabin 

unsettled, but little moral responsibility for 
the deed could have attached to us. 

So, too, in our intercourse with Lawson; 
had we been able to have explained our 
situation calmly to him, he might have been 
of great service to us; but he, no doubt, 
thought we were trying to impose on him; 
and we, conscious of telling the truth, felt too 
keenly his expressed disbelief of our story to 
attempt any explanation. 

Late in the afternoon the snow slackened 
some, and about dark we reached the Amer- 
ican Ranch, a large log house at the edge of 
an open valley. Here we obtained some pro- 
visions, and fixed our camp under the 
branches of a large, low pine, on the bank of 
a clear brook. 

Wednesday, Feb. 19. Last night when our 
hot coffee, bacon, and bread were ready, a 
young man came up from the American 
Ranch with the information that he was 
''plumb strapped," which was miner's par- 
lance for saying that he was entirely destitute 
of both money or provisions. Our hunger had 
been too recent to permit us to be unmindful 
of his need, so we gave him a cordial invita- 
tion to take supper and breakfast with us, 
which he did, and finally concluded to accom- 
pany us to Downie's Diggings on Poorman*s 
Creek, and join us in a mining enterprise. 

€J)e fUeturn from f eatftcr iSiber 

In the morning, while waiting for us to 
prepare a lunch for dinner, he lay down on 
his blanket by the fire, and in an unguarded 
moment turned on his side, when out of his 
pocket rolled a handful of gold and silver 
coins. Hastily gathering them up, he re- 
marked, "/ didn't know I had it'' 

The idea of a person carrying such a 
weight in his pantaloons pocket and not know- 
ing it, brought to our faces an incredulous 
smile, whereupon he seemed embarrassed, 
and at last, without even saying good-bye, 
left in the direction of the American Ranch. 

No effort was made to persuade him to re- 
main with us and carry out our mining proj- 
ect. Even without his falsehood, his pocket 
full of coin indicated that he was a profes- 
sional gambler. Gold dust is the currency of 
the mines, but a gambler always keeps a sup- 
ply of coin as an attractive display, and should 
he lose in his game, always pays in dust. 

We crossed the middle fork of Feather 
River at the mouth of Nelson's Creek, and 
proceeded thence over a high mountain in a 
heavy snow storm to Onion Valley, arriving 
at the only buildings, two overcrowded 
cabins, about dark. However, a prospector 
kindly permitted us the use of a tent. Here 
we mixed and kneaded a cake for our sup- 
per, and undertook to bake it at a fire built 


3^n Camp and Cabin 

outside against a large pine log. But the con- 
stant high wind showered the snow upon it 
and prevented the formation of the usual 
delicate crust, and after holding it awhile in 
the flame it was pronounced '*done," and al- 
though stained with smoke and tasting of 
pitch, it satisfied our hunger, and that was 
all the very best could have done. 

Thankful for shelter, we enjoyed the un- 
usual luxury of sleeping with our boots oflF, 
something we had not done for weeks, owing 
to the cold and our exposed condition. It 
was a great relief to our weary feet, and we 
slept well. 

There was a heavy gale during the night, 
and morning brought no abatement of the 
storm. The tent door was buttoned in the 
center, but the wind had burst oflF the lower 
button and had made a rent in the opposite 
upper end, where it found exit, and had piled 
the snow from the bottom of the door to the 
peak of the tent. We lay under the drift, our 
heads only projecting from it near the door, 
and sheltered by our caps. Our boots, some- 
where under the snow bank, when found 
were so frozen, being wet when taken off, 
that they had to be thawed before we could 
put them on. 

Fortunately, within about ten rods, several 
men were trying to save their horses and 


€l)e Utetutn from feather iHiber 

mules in the shelter of the woods by the aid 
of a great fire. Thither we waded the snow 
barefoot, put on our socks, thawed our boots, 
and finally succeeded in getting into them. 

Next, going to one of the large cabins, we 
inquired of a man behind a bar at the side of 
the room whether we could obtain breakfast, 
**Yes, sir, breakfast, or any other meal you 
want, just as soon as you can get a place at 
the table." 

A narrow puncheon table, probably twelve 
feet long, occupied the center of the room; on 
either side was a narrow puncheon seat, the 
length of the table, and, like it, resting on 
posts driven firmly into the ground, which con- 
stituted the floor. On each side of the room 
were shelves resting on large pins, projecting 
from auger holes in the logs, and furnishing 
a receptacle for provisions, liquors, etc. 

Against the logs at one end of the room 
was a thick wall about eight feet long and 
four in height; in front of this the kitchen fire 
was built, the smoke finding exit through a 
large hole in the roof. Two men, engaged in 
cooking, were scarcely able to supply the 
eaters who thronged the table, while the 
hungry crowd around waited impatiently 
their turn. 

It was nearly noon when after weigh- 
ing out in gold dust three dollars apiece, 


3Fn Camp and Cafiin 

Donnelley and I, crowded together on the 
puncheon table seat, were furnished with a 
cup of coffee, a slice of fried bacon, and a 
piece of bread broken from a cake, which had 
been taken hot from before the fire; but it 
was all delicious beyond expression. Toward 
night we obtained another meal. 

There were probably two hundred trying 
to shelter ourselves at this unfinished hotel, 
and it was difficult to prevent being in each 
other's way. The storm continued unabated, 
and the snow was higher than the roof of the 
house, so that in going out we ascended a 
steep hill-like bank. Considerable snow was 
tracked in, and, dissolving on the ground, our 
standing room became a pool of mud. 

When night came on, and we all crowded 
in, it was simply impossible for all to lie 
down. Donnelley and I wrapped our blan- 
kets about us, and sitting on a piece of fire- 
wood which lay in the mud, slept as best we 
could, but, in common with others, we were 
greatly annoyed by several drunken men, 
who so disturbed the company as at times to 
threaten a first class tragedy. 

Friday, Feb. 21. The storm continued un- 
abated all day, and we kept closely indoor. 
This afternoon an intoxicated mian invited 
me to drink with him, and I declined as 
politely and pleasantly as possible. But he 


€f)e metum from f eatfjer iHiber 

was not satisfied, and began to insist; still 
refusing, I tried to move away, when he ex- 
claimed, "Hold on, you think I'm drunk, and 
are ashamed to drink with me, but I'll make 
you do it"; and seizing a bottle, poured a 
quantity of liquor in two glasses that stood 
on the bar, pushed one toward me, and, at 
the same time producing a revolver, re- 
marked, "There now, take that glass of 
liquor, or the contents of this pistol." He 
evidently meant, drink or die. 

"Wait a moment," said I, "my partner 
can explain this." 

Donnelley was called. "Here is Mr. Don- 
nelley, my partner; we crossed the plains 
together. He knows whether I ever drink 
with any one; now, Mr. Donnelley, did you 
ever see me drink with any one?" 

"No sir, I never did." 

"Did you ever hear me give a reason for 
not drinking?" 

"I've heard you say you were pledged 
against it." 

Now turning to the man, who had put up 
his pistol, I said, "A gentleman like you 
would not ask anyone to break his word." 

"Of course not, and here's my hand on it." 

So we shook hands, and the aflFair was 
settled; but I was more than glad of being 
pledged against drinking. 


2Fn €amp anb Cabin 

Saturday, Feb. 22. The day was very cold, 
with a fierce gale occasionally tearing the 
clouds and letting through a ray of sun- 
shine. This morning our host informed us 
that he had consulted the proprietor of the 
other hotel, and it was ascertained that the 
supply of provisions was nearly exhausted, 
and we would therefore be limited each to 
one meal a day. Before night I could not 
refrain the wish that the liquor might be 
reduced to even less than one drink a day; 
but however scant our ration of bread and 
bacon, there was plenty of whiskey, and the 
place became a veritable pandemonium. 

In the afternoon a large German was at- 
tacked with delirium tremens, and became so 
violent that the men bound him hand and 
foot and laid him, a shrieking maniac, in one 
corner of the room; but I don't know as he 
made more noise than some who had not yet 
reached that stage in the drama, and were 
only drunk. 

After dark a man came in and told us that 
his partner was somewhere out in the woods. 
Being intoxicated, they had started for 
Downie's Diggings on Poorman's Creek, but 
had lost their way, and finally one succeeded 
in getting back to the house. 

Quite a number started out for the missing 
man. We divided into squads, three or four 


€l^e ifletum from ftati^tt ^iber 

together. It was a fearful night, very cold, 
and a fierce gale scattered the branches, 
making it dangerous to be in the wootis, on 
account of the falling limbs. 

He was found by our squad in a depression 
in the snow, leaning against a large pine, 
unable to speak, his face frozen, and icicles 
hanging from his bare hands. Rolling him in 
a blanket and carrying him back, as we 
neared the house we were joined by Dr. Y., 
formerly a surgeon in the United States 
army, who, after feeling of his face and hands, 
told us to take him down to the spring, 
where he could be laid in a bed of earth until 
the frost was withdrawn. 

Unfortunately, the news that he had been 
found preceded us, and when we stopped at 
the hotel for a pick and spade, the rabble 
came out and insisted on taking him in to the 
fire. We urged the necessity of following the 
doctor's advice, and for awhile there was a 
fair prospect of a fight, but when they drew 
their pistols we were forced to give him up, 
and he was taken in and laid upon a shelf 
near the fire. The drunken mob had its own 
way, but the poor man died in the morning, 
after a night of terrible agony. 

The German afflicted with delirium, fall- 
ing into a comatose condition, had been 
unbound, and was lying quietly on some 


5Fn €amp anti Cabin 

clapboards placed on the mud floor. It was 
near midnight, and Donnelley and I, hoping 
to obtain a few hours' rest, brought in some 
boards, which we found piled against the 
house outside, placed them on the mud in a 
corner of the room for a bed, wrapped our 
blankets about us, lay down, and were soon 

About that time the German aroused with 
a scream, and when I awoke, he was kneeling 
beside me in the mud and reaching across to 
Donnelley, who lay next the logs, had him 
firmly by the throat. I tried to open his 
hands, but his grasp was like an iron vise. 

Seeing that Donnelley was choking I called 
for help, and some of the revelers yelled 
back, "Damn him, why don't you shoot 
him?" In a moment his hands relaxed, and 
rising with a bound, he ran screaming against 
the table, almost pushing it off the posts, 
but, soon overpowered, he was again bound 
and laid aside, and his screams gradually 
died away in sob-like groans. 

Donnelley had been choked almost into 
insensibility, but as I raised his head and 
shoulders his breath returned. However, for 
several days he felt the effects of the maniac's 
lingers upon his throat. 

Words utterly fail to picture the scene in 
that cabin. Above the drunken revel at 


€|)e iSetutn froiti ftatt^tt Utiber 

times could be heard the pleadings for help 
of those two men. And the doctor, who, had 
he kept sober, might have rendered some 
help, became wild with drink, and after sing- 
ing vulgar songs for awhile, finally quieted 
down into a drunken sleep. About sunrise 
the man who had been frozen breathed his 
last; the one with delirium lingered through 
the day, and as I afterward learned died 
duiing the following night. 

Donnelley and I determined to leave the 
valley. Three days and nights in such un- 
comfortable quarters were enough for our 
patience, and besides, the immense depth of 
snow rendered mining at Downie's Diggings 
impossible for some time to come. Those 
who had claims already proved to be rich 
could wait in hope, but to us it seemed better 
to spend the time in active prospecting. 
Therefore, as soon as we could obtain our 
daily meal, which was early in the afternoon, 
we started for Grass Valley, said to be nine 
miles distant. 

From Onion Valley we ascended a ridge 
where the snow had almost completely cov- 
ered the forest, and yet, on the top of this 
great depth of snow, the enterprising owners 
of pack trains had beaten a path so that 
horses and mules with their loads could travel 
in safety. 


3^n Camp anti Cabin 

These trains had continued to travel until 
the beginning of the recent storms, and were 
only discontinued when the severe, freezing, 
high winds, with added snow, made the path 
dangerous. But I learned later that although 
the storm continued for a week after we left, 
as soon as it abated the wind ceased and 
milder weather came, and the path was 
beaten out and pack trains again traveled 
over the snow. 

It would be difficult to guess the average 
depth of snow, but Mr. Christopher R. 
Stark, whose home has since been near 
Granville, Ohio, and who that winter and the 
following summer was engaged in packing 
provisions with a mule train over that trail, 
informed me that a limb over which they 
had traveled for some time, when the snow 
began to settle became an obstruction and 
was cut off, and when the snow was gone the 
branch from which that limb was cut was 
found to be forty feet above the ground, his 
train passing over snow of that depth. 

At Grass Valley we found an overcrowded 
hotel, but succeeded in obtaining supper, and 
passed the night in comparative comfort. 

Monday, Feb. 24. This forenoon there fell 
a light snow. It seemed to be one of the out- 
lying curtains of the storm which still en- 
veloped the great heights from which we had 

€fte JSetutn from f eatfjet 35ibet 

come. We made a fair day's journey, and 
about night stopped at the Buck Eye ranch. 
We were now out of the region of snow, flow- 
ers were in bloom, the air balmy as an eve- 
ning in spring, and yet only a day and a half 
from where winter reigns in all its rigor. A 
most agreeable contrast for us. 

Having a desire to know how the mines 
had developed in the valley of the South 
Yuba, we returned as fast as possible, and 
found our former partners. Hunt, McCord, 
and Farley, at our cabin on Poorman's 
Creek. Their mine had scarcely paid ex- 
penses, but they had worked on, hoping it 
would improve; it, however, had paid less 
and less, and now that it was nearly worked 
out they were ready to quit. 

This was a common experience all through 
the mines, hundreds of men worked hard, 
early and late, encouraged by the hope, never 
realized, of finding a rich deposit. 

Wednesday, March 5, 1851. This morning 
we started in search of new mines. Donnel- 
ley, Hunt, and Farley explored the South 
Yuba, while McCord and I examined the 
gulches and creeks between the Middle and 
South Yubas. The weather was pleasant, 
and after three days diligent but fruitless 
search we crossed the South Yuba and fol- 
lowed up Deer Creek to Nevada City. Here 


S^n Camp anD Cabin 

we learned that our friends, William E. 
Shimmans and Henry Callanan, had gone to 
the Klamath mines, which had been reported 
very rich. John Callanan was arranging their 
business affairs, intending to go when he 
heard from his brother Henry, provided the 
story of the richness of the mines proved 

Of course this was interesting to McCord 
and me, and we felt inclined to keep within 
hail of Mr. Callanan until the question of 
the Klamath mines was decided. 

The mines around Nevada had produced 
an immense quantity of gold, and the busi- 
ness of the town had greatly extended, but 
just then the people were in dread of a band 
of roughs who had threatened to burn the 
city. The saloons and gambling houses had 
developed and sheltered a vicious class, 
which became so numerous and desperate, 
emboldened by the lack of organized govern- 
ment, that they greatly interfered with legit- 
imate business, and men known to have gold 
or other valuables were in constant danger of 
being murdered and robbed. 

The better element combined in self- 
defense, and demanded that certain known 
and designated criminals must leave the 
place within a specified time or be put to 
death. They left, but with the counter 


€fje iSetutn from ftatf^tt Hi^cr 

threat to return and burn the city. And so 
for some time the people had been in terror 
lest the threat might be carried out. 

Returning to our cabin on Poorman's 
Creek, we found the rest of our company. 
Our prospecting had been unsuccessful, and 
we made up our minds to go to Nevada, and 
perhaps, ultimately, to the Klamath mines. 

Tuesday, March ii. This morning, taking 
our effects on our shoulders, we started for 
Nevada. The day was very warm, and our 
burdens heavy, and about dark we reached 
the ridge which overlooks the city from the 
north. Here we camped, near Sugar Loaf Hill. 

About midnight one of our company dis- 
covered that the city was on fire. Beginning 
in the valley of Deer Creek, in the southeast 
part of the city, the fire soon communicated 
to a large store. A high wind from the south- 
east swept the burning coals over the canvas- 
covered buildings, and in a short time the 
whole city was one mass of fiame. The houses, 
built of wood and canvas, were soon gone, 
leaving a smoking mass of ruined merchan- 
dise and a large number of homeless people. 
The loss was estimated at about $400,000. 

The fire had been kindled in a ball alley, 
evidently by the banished thugs, and in ful- 
fillment of their threat. While contemplating 
the terrible deed, many, maddened by their 


5^n Camp anti Cabin 

losses, expressed regret that they had not 
been put to death while they had them with- 
in reach, thereby not only saving the city, 
but preventing the repetition of similar 
crimes against others. 

The destruction of such a quantity of pro- 
visions produced something of a famine until 
supplies could be brought from Sacramento; 
but fortunately the roads were quite good, 
and in a few days there was a city of tents, 
and abundant stores, and soon the city began 
to rise again, with better arrangement of 
streets and more substantial buildings. 


Cl^aptet 5 


WHILE awaiting news from the 
Klamath we engaged in sluice wash- 
ing, hiring water from the Deer 
Creek Water Company, which had succeeded 
in bringing it in a small canal from near the 
head of the creek onto Coyote Ridge. 

Our mining arrangments were very simple. 
A ditch about eighteen inches wide and 
twelve deep, and ten rods long, was made in 
the ground, terminating in a long-tom and 
riffle-box. Into this ditch was turned a stream 
of water, one inch deep and five wide, under 
a pressure of one inch head; and for this five- 
inch stream of water we paid five dollars a day. 
Into this we shoveled the gravel, raised 
from the deep mines around, which, though 
containing considerable gold, was not suffi- 
ciently rich to pay for hauling to the creek, 
but lay in vast piles of refuse. While running 
down the sluice and long-tom this was 
thoroughly washed; the gravel was shoveled 
away, and the sand running through and the 
gold being heavier, remained in the little 
eddies in the riffle-box. 


^n Camp anti Cabin 

After working thus all day, the sluice was 
carefully washed down and all the gold col- 
lected in the riffle-box and then "panned 
out;" that is, placed in a large tin or iron pan, 
and the remaining sand carefully washed 
away. Thus, after paying five dollars for 
water, we obtained from five to seven dollars 
each per day. 

Wednesday, March 19. Rain fell during 
the entire day, and the next morning snow to 
the depth of eight inches covered the ground; 
and for two days snow, sometimes mingled 
with rain, continued to fall, but there was 
little or no frost. 

Saturday, March 22. This morning the 
sky was cloudless. The bright sun and balmy 
air soon dissolved the snow, which settled 
quietly into the ground. We finished our 
sluice washing, and receiving a favorable re- 
port from the Klamath mines, prepared to go 
there, by way of San Francisco. 

Monday, March 24. This morning Thomas 
Hunt, Drury Farley, Robert McCord, John 
Donnelley, and myself started on foot for 
Sacramento City. The country through 
which we traveled, gently undulating, with 
the rich foliage of trees, carpeting of grass 
and flowers, possessed great natural beauty; 
and when from a spur of the foot-hills we 
obtained a view of the Sacramento Valley, 


iSemobal to American Jtiber 

spreading out in a vast green meadow, it re- 
minded us of our journey last summer along 
the Platte. 

We spent the first night at Union Valley^ 
and the second day at dark ferried the 
American River, stopping at a hotel about a 
mile from Sacramento City. The next morn- 
ing we entered the city, where Hunt and 
Farley, who are half brothers, hearing of 
their brother, John Farley, requested us to 
remain while they made him a visit. Through 
the kindness of a relative of Mr. Hunt, Mr. 
Adolphus Hanna of the firm of Hanna, 
Jennings and White, largely proprietors of 
Sacramento City, we obtained a room where 
we could keep our eflfects and sleep; and 
thus, while living cheaply and pleasantly, 
have an opportunity of seeing the city and 

Our first visit was to the post office. I am 
quite sure that at this time there was not a 
post office in the mines. Letters for miners 
were addressed to Sacramento, and of course 
the mail arriving here was immense, and 
when we reached the office the crowd was too 
great for us to approach the delivery during 
the day. 

The next morning we were there an hour 
before the time of opening, but the crowd 
seemed just as great as ever, so we retired 


3Fn Camp anD CaBin 

again, and spent part of the day in visiting 
Sutter's Fort. 

It stands about a mile from the Sacra- 
mento River, and was built many years ago 
by John A. Sutter, a Swiss by birth, and 
formerly a captain in the French army. The 
thick outer walls, with bastioned corners on 
which are places for cannon, were built of 
adobe (sun dried brick), inclosing a space of 
about twenty rods square. This outer wall, 
fifteen feet high, is separated twenty-five feet 
from an inner wall ten feet high. This space 
was roofed over, making a terreplein pro- 
tected by a parapet. Underneath were rooms 
for barracks, shops, stables, etc. 

Quite a pretentious frame building stood 
within the inclosure, said to be the former 
residence of Captain Sutter. The only access 
was by two massive gates, one on the south, 
the other on the east; but they needed re- 
pairs, and like the dilapidated and deserted 
barracks and dismounted cannon, disclosed 
the fact that military occupants and disci- 
pline had departed. 

Saturday, March 29. Mr. Hunt returned 
this morning; said that he and Farley would 
not go with us at this time; but they, with 
McCord and Donnelley, wanted I should go, 
examine the mines, and report to them by 
letter at Mormon Island. 


!!lemobal to 3lmerican Ifliber 

The fact that my friends Shimmans and 
Callanan had been there long enough to test 
the mines, induced me to accept the mission. 
However, we resolved to make one more 
effort to get our mail. 

The condition of this post office is alto- 
gether unique. It opens at eight in the morn- 
ing and closes at eight in the evening. 
There is a delivery window for nearly every 
letter of the alphabet, and at each there is a 
row of people, often reaching more than 
around the block. When so many come in 
person for their mail it is simply overwhelm- 
ing, and when it comes time to close the 
office, the lines break up, each to take his 
chances another day. But as hope deferred 
makes the heart sick, so, many who came a 
great distance and waited long, are com- 
pelled to turn away still enduring their 
anxious suspense. 

Recently people have adopted the plan of 
having their mail addressed, **By express to 
Nevada, Coloma," or wherever they may be. 
Thus the postmaster at Sacramento can send 
the mail by responsible express agents to the 
various mining towns and greatly relieve the 

Monday, March 31. This morning about 
one o'clock we arrived at the post office and 
found a large number in waiting. The line 


3^n Camp anti Cabin 

facing the S delivery window already ex- 
tended half way around the block. 

Taking my place in the line, I waited until 
the office opened, and as the line in front 
melted away, moved forward. Of course 
each one of our little company sought the 
delivery according to name. This put us into 
different lines, and as we approached the 
window men came and tried to buy a place 
in the line, offering twenty-five and fifty dol- 
lars, and I was told that even a hundred 
dollars had been paid for a place near the de- 
livery. The one who sold his place stepped 
from the line and went to the extreme rear, 
or else waited until the office closed and night 
had shortened the line, and again found a 
place. Many who were near the delivery 
when the office closed, remained, holding 
their place until it opened in the morning. 

At last I reached the delivery, and the busy 
clerk, after looking over a vast pile of mail 
matter, handed out what belonged to me. 
Gladly I got out of the way, and hurrying to 
our room, scanned the familiar writing, and 
with a strange tremor read the first letters I 
had received from home and friends since 
leaving them more than a year before. My 
companions also received considerable mail, 
and we spent a portion of the day in answer- 
ing letters; and in the afternoon they started 


iSemobal to American lUiber 

for Mormon Island, on the south fork of the 
American River, about twenty-five miles 
from Sacramento. 

Tuesday, April i, 1851. At two in the 
afternoon I left Sacramento on the steamer 
JVilson G. Hunt^ arriving at San Francisco 
early the next morning. Calling at the gen- 
eral shipping office, I was informed that one 
vessel would sail that day for Portland, Ore- 
gon, but as I was the only one who had 
applied for passage to Trinidad Bay, the 
landing place of those going to the Klamath, 
they were not willing it should stop there. 

Having leisure I looked around the city 
and bay, and was greatly surprised at the 
number of vessels lying in the harbor, but 
learned that many were there because they 
had been abandoned by their crews, the gold 
mines having tempted the sailors to desert, 
and the officers, unable to obtain others, were 
compelled to remain. I was told that on the 
22nd of February ships of every nation on 
the globe were in the harbor, and displayed 
their flags in connection with the United 
States flag in honor of Washington's birth- 

Friday, April 4. This afternoon the Sir 
Charles Napier, a large English merchant 
vessel from Panama, arrived at Long Wharf, 
bringing a large number of passengers, all in 


2Fn Camp anti <Ca6in 

a very debilitated condition, some of whom 
stopped at my hotel, the Atlantic, and re- 
lated a terrible story of deception, suffering, 
and crime. 

A company in New York City advertised 
to take passengers from New York to San 
Francisco at considerably less than the rates 
charged by the regular steamers. Passengers 
were to furnish their own transportation 
across the Isthmus from Chagres to Panama, 
where ships were promised to be in readiness 
to carry them to San Francisco. Hundreds 
accepted the offer and were landed at 
Chagres, where they made their way across 
the Isthmus and waited at Panama for the 
ships that never came. 

At last, realizing the fact that they had 
been deceived, and that no arrangement had 
been made for their conveyance farther, 
some obtained passage on the regular steam- 
ers to San Francisco: others, after long delay 
went on merchant vessels; and many died. 
The New York company after carrying on 
its deceptive work until fearing detection and 
arrest, canceled the contracts for the ships it 
had chartered, disbanded, and disappeared. 

About this time the Sir Charles Napier, an 
English merchantman, came to Panama, and 
taking on board all the passengers that could 
be accommodated, sailed for San Francisco. 


iSiemobal to American JStber 

While on the way they were becalmed in the 
tropics for some sixty days. 

Water and provisions failed, ship fever set 
in, many died, and after a voyage of over 
four months the ship reached San Francisco. 
Among those who were buried at sea were 
two whom I had known in Delaware County, 
New York; Walter Rutherford, a neighbor, 
and Garret McFarland, a schoolmate. 

Through the incidental conversation of 
strangers, the well-remembered names came 
to my ears. "Died and were buried at sea," 
was all they could tell; but how well I knew 
them both. Rutherford, almost a giant in 
stature and strength, once while whetting a 
scythe in his field was struck by lightning, 
suffering for months a mental and physical 
collapse, but rallying, appeared strong and 
healthful as ever. 

When a small boy, the first day of my 
school life. Garret and I were placed in the 
same class, and for several years, summer 
and winter, our lives lay parallel; studies and 
interests seemed identical. Never but once 
was there the least unpleasantness. Then, in 
a scuffle, I made his nose bleed; but perhaps 
it hurt me as much as it did him; and I went 
with him to the spring to wash away the 
blood. When school was called, possibly 
some one told the teacher that we had been 


3^n Camp anD €abin 

quarreling, for he noticed blood on Garret's 
cravat, and inquired about it. "Yes," said 
he, "I got my nose hurt, and it bled a little.'* 
I was not blameless in the matter, but Garret 
was just as anxious to shield me from blame 
as though I had been. Brave, generous, 
noble-hearted boy. 

Saturday, April 5. This morning two 
steamers arrived from the north, both stop- 
ping at Trinidad Bay, brought a large num- 
ber of passengers from the Klamath mines. 
All with whom I conversed gave a very un- 
favorable account of the mines in that dis- 

This was discouraging; and as the regular 
steamer would not return to Trinidad for 
fifteen days, I resolved to report at once, and 
in person, to my company at Mormon Island, 
and at four in the afternoon took passage on 
the steamer IVesl Point for Sacramento. A 
little after dark, while crossing the bay our 
boat came near being lost in a gale, which 
swept everything from the decks and put out 
the fires. After the force of the storm had 
passed a sail was raised, and toward morning 
arriving at Benicia, the boat was repaired 
and the fires rekindled, but it was late 
Sunday night when we reached Sacramento. 

Being without sleep the preceding night, 
I went to a hotel, and slept soundly until 


iSemobal to American iSiber 

morning; but waking, felt a strange creep- 
ing sensation on all parts of my body. An 
examination revealed the disgusting fact that 
I was infested with insects of the species 
pediculis vestimenii, or greybacks. I had 
heard of such things, but had never seen 
them before, and the experience was de- 
cidedly annoying. 

However, after breakfast I went to a 
clothing store and bought a complete suit, 
including underwear, folded them in my 
satchel, and then started on foot for Mormon 
Island. In a few miles I reached the Ameri- 
can River, where, sheltered by a grove, I un- 
dressed, and taking my clothes, stockings 
and all, rolled them in a bundle and sank 
them in about two feet of water, placing a 
large stone on top, and for aught I know 
they are there yet. 

Then, after a thorough washing with sand 
and soap, I donned my new outfit and felt no 
further annoyance. I had an easy walk of 
twenty-five miles, and late in the afternoon 
I found my company camped a little above 
Mormon Island, on the south fork of the 
American River. They reported it a very 
rich mining district, and we were all pleased 
to give up the journey to the Klamath. 

We learned afterward that while a few very 
rich discoveries were made on the Klamath 


5Fn Camp anb CaBin 

River, they were not extensive. But the 
transportation companies, by extensive ad- 
vertising induced an immense rush to that 
region. It was a rich harvest for the shippers 
but hard on the miners, who, after spending 
the time and labor of exploration, and paying 
their passage both ways, returned to their 
former diggings, under all the disadvantages 
and losses which follow a break-up in business. 

We now adopted the use of the rocker 
for gold washing; a machine made in various 
styles, but in general outline like a cradle in 
which babies are rocked. The part corre- 
sponding to the head has a box about five 
inches deep, with a sheet iron bottom per- 
forated with half-inch holes. Into this a 
bucket of sand and gravel is thrown, and 
while water is poured over it with a dipper, 
the cradle is violently rocked, and when 
washed clean the gravel is thrown off and 
another bucket supplied. 

On the inside, across the bottom, slats were 
nailed, forming ripples where the gold might 
settle and permit the sand and light gravel 
to run over. This necessitated placing the 
rocker at such an angle as to make the water 
ripple just right, so as to let the gold settle 
and the sand run off. 

It is a slow method, but it enables a person 
to use water from a pond or river, where it 


!!temobal to American Mi\}tt 

cannot be raised so as to run into a sluice or 
long-torn. With the rocker each one generally 
worked alone, and we were enabled to wash 
little bars and banks, many of which were 
exceedingly rich. In this way we did a 
profitable business, sometimes collecting 
twenty-five or thirty dollars worth of gold 
in a day; but a half ounce, eight dollars, was 
considered a fair day's work. 

Monday, April 21. Today R. McCord 
and I, with twelve others, organized a com- 
pany for the purpose of turning about forty 
rods of the south fork of the American River 
from its channel, in order to obtain the gold 
from its bed. 

In connection with other companies, we 
selected our claim about half a mile below 
Mormon Island, arranging to take the water 
of the river from a large ditch belonging to 
the next company above and bring it over 
the river bed into our ditch, and thus con- 
duct it below our claim. 

We calculated that when the water was 
low, from July 15 to September 15, a flume 
twelve feet wide and six feet deep would 
carry the entire river. It would require about 
250 yards of flume and 275 yards of ditch, 
twelve feet wide at the bottom, averaging 
thirty feet in depth: and nearly the entire 
distance through solid granite. It was an 


tJn Camp anti Ca6m 

expensive undertaking, but we had no doubt 
that there was gold enough in the river bed 
to pay us well, could we only get it. 

Companies for turning the river and work- 
ing its bed had their boundaries well de- 
fined and to each its specific name, as Iowa 
claim. New York claim. Ours was the Pio- 
neer claim. There was also a definite under- 
standing as to the joining of flumes and 

The company next below ours tried to 
work their claim last year but failed; hav- 
ing raised a high dam, they were not able 
sufficiently to shut off the water. This year 
they intended to deepen their ditch, and 
thus lower the dam; and in accordance with 
this arrangement we planned the exit of our 

Mr. Matthews, a shareholder, was em- 
ployed as foreman to direct the work, keep 
the record of labor, expense, etc. Aided by 
seven men he was to carry on the work, and 
as the river would not be low enough to turn 
out of its bed until the latter part of July, we 
had some eighty days in which to complete 
the job. As there were fourteen shareholders, 
each furnished a man every other week; and 
as McCord and I were camped together, we 
worked alternate weeks on the claim. This 
enabled us to spend half our time in mining 


JSemobal to 3lmerican Jlilaer 

and still sustain our interest in the river 

Since enduring the fatigue, hunger, and 
cold last winter, my health has not been 
firm, and on May 21 I was prostrated with 
rheumatic fever, and it was not until June 
18 that I was able to resume work. How- 
ever, McCord kindly took my place on the 
river claim, and when able to do full work I 
returned the favor. 

The conflicting interests of river, bar, 
bank, and gulch claim had long demanded 
some general rules of adjustment. For in- 
stance, it sometimes happened that a com- 
pany would work a bar until the water of the 
river prevented their going farther; but, 
when the river had been turned, so as to clear 
the bar of water, the company would return 
and demand the privilege of working out 
their claim. So also with gulches opening to 
the river; while those who, at large expense, 
had drained the river, naturally claimed all 
from which they had removed the water. 
Also the building of dams, causing claims to 
be flooded. 

For these and many other matters a meet- 
ing of mine owners embracing the American 
River and its tributaries was called to as- 
semble at Mormon Island on Monday, July 
28. While there were delegates from all 


^n €amp anb €abm 

parts of the district, it was really a mass con- 
vention, as every mine owner was not only 
entitled to speak but to vote. 

The meeting lasted but a single day, and 
yet rules for the regulation of all mining 
interests were read, discussed, adopted, and 
registered. Many propositions were voted 
down, but I do not think there ever was a set 
of rules, which, upon trial, more perfectly 
bore the test than those adopted by that 
mass convention. Being the work of practi- 
cal, earnest, upright men, they settled almost 
innumerable difficulties, and were recognized 
in the courts. 

In this valley the climate, affected by local 
conditions, is peculiar. April i6 it rained all 
day, and on the 17th there were a few show- 
ers. May 7 and 17 rained all day. June 10 two 
slight showers, the last rain until September 
5. Meanwhile vegetation dried up, and the 
surface of the ground became hard like brick. 

During the summer months there seems to 
be a regular trade wind blowing up and down 
the river. After sunset the cool air of the 
mountains comes stealing down the river to 
take the place of the heated air of the plain; 
the night becomes cold and one needs a heavy 
wrap for comfortable sleep. This continues 
until after sunrise, when there is generally a 
calm and the temperature rises until after 


itemobal to American iSiber 

midday, often reaching loo or 120 degrees in 
the shade, when a light breeze comes up the 
river, perhaps to take the place of the over- 
heated air of the valley, but toward sunset it 
dies away. 

To work in the sun during noonday heat is 
attended with great fatigue and danger of 
sun stroke. In the early morning, before 
people get to work, the water of the river is 
cold and clear. Then we fill our buckets and 
place them in the shade. To a bucket of 
water we add about a pint of vinegar, and 
drinking freely of this, perspiration is pro- 
moted, and people work with safety, even in 
the hot sun. 

Tuesday, June 24. For some time past, I 
noticed a man at work with a rocker on the 
bank of the river. His little tent stood near 
my path to the Pioneer claim, just above his 
place of work. He was a fine-looking man, 
industrious, unable to speak English, and as 
there seemed to be no one with whom he 
could intelligently converse, his utter loneli- 
ness impressed me. 

Business led me out of my usual path for 
several days, and tonight as I returned by 
the place the tent was gone and there was a 
grave where it had stood. Inquiring of those 
who were tented in the vicinity, I was in- 
formed that some of them had noticed a 


^n Camp anb Cabin 

stench proceeding from the tent, and upon 
examination the lone man was found dead in 
his bed. Nothing indicating his name, friends, 
or country was found about him or the tent. 
There were no marks of violence on his per- 
son. He had evidently sickened and died 
alone; so, wrapped in his cot he was buried, 
and his tent and effects burned. 

It is sad, indeed, when sickness thus over- 
takes the stranger, and yet in these mines 
many die thus neglected and alone; not that 
people here are unwilling to help, but be- 
cause the needs of the unfortunates are not 
known. While there are many of the worst 
from all nations in California, I believe the 
mass of the people are equal or superior to 
any in the world in intelligence, benevolence, 
or courage. I saw this illustrated a few days 

Two men were digging at the base of a 
sand bank, almost perpendicular and about 
one hundred feet high. Presently a large slice 
caved upon them, burying one completely, 
and the other to his shoulders. At the same 
time a large seam opened, extending to the 
top, showing that a great mass was about to 
fall. The one whose head was above the sand, 
called out, "Help here, quick." 

About twenty men who were at work near 
by made a rush to the spot. There was not a 


iSemobal to American Hiber 

moment's delay; each brought his shovel, 
and there was perfect concert of action. Not 
a second seemed to be lost, and the men were 
almost instantly released, when the great 
mass, like a mighty wave, swept down, 
brushing the feet of the hindmost. It seemed 
that had it fallen half a minute earlier it 
might have been fatal to many. 


Ci^apter 6 


FRIDAY, Aug. I, 1 851. All things be- 
ing ready, this morning the river was 
turned into the flume and gliding 
smoothly through its new channel left in the 
old bed only a series of ponds. Pumps were 
arranged at the lower extremity, where a low 
dam was thrown across to prevent the river 
from backing up at the mouth of our ditch, 
but it was not until noon the next day that 
we were ready to begin gold' washing; and 
then a few buckets of gravel from the bed of 
the river, washed in a rocker, as a prospect, 
yielded over three hundred dollars worth of 

Elated with the prospect and hopeful that 
the reward of our labors was about to be 
realized, we went cheerfully to dinner. But 
on returning we found the water like a placid 
lake, filling the channel, and our rocker, and 
such things as would float, on the surface; 
while crowbars, picks, etc., rested on the 

The company below, finding the rock 
through which they had tried to cut their 


ditch very hard, had given up the task and 
again raised their dam. Reminding them of 
our mutual understanding, when, in April, 
we began work, they acknowledged their 
promise, but claimed that it would be very 
expensive cutting to such a depth through 
the flint-like rock; and besides, according to 
the rules made at the miner's convention, 
they had the right to raise the dam one more 

Part of our company proposed to take up 
the flume and store it until next summer, 
and then set it up again. Others argued that 
we would not only incur the delay and the 
work of taking up and replacing the flume, 
but that another year we would not have the 
advantage of the ditch from which to receive 
the water into our flume, and consequently 
must build an extensive dam. These proposed 
an appeal to the law in order to compel the 
removal of the dam which flooded our claim; 
and, being a majority, their plan was adopted. 

Believing that the miner's rule permitting 
the raising of the dam would be recognized 
in court, I remarked, ** Anyone can have my 
interest, who will pay me fair wages for my 
work." The offer was immediately taken by 
one of the company, who weighed out the 
gold, and my connection with the Pioneer 
claim ended. 


S^n €amp anti Cabin 

It was fortunate for me, for after an expen- 
sive litigation the miner's rule was recog- 
nized, and work on the Pioneer had to be 
abandoned for the time; and the next year 
there were difficulties about raising the 
water so as to run it into the flume, and I 
never knew when the claim was worked. 

Wednesday, Aug. 6. This morning while 
making an excavation on the bank of the 
river, my right hand was quite severely in- 
jured. However, coming back the next day 
with a rocker, I took out an ounce of gold 
(sixteen dollars) but my bruised hand be- 
came so painful I concluded to let it rest a 
few days. 

Thursday, Aug. 28. On the ninth instant 
rheumatic fever again set in, and has trou- 
bled me occasionally ever since. But while 
not able to do much mining, I have made 
quite a thorough exploration of this region. 

On either side of the river, along the foot 
hills, or terminating ridges of the Sierra 
Nevada, the soil is, no doubt, rich, though 
now barren, creviced, and dry. It only lacks 
rain to make it productive; and some of the 
ravines are rich in gold, but cannot be worked 
successfully for lack of water. 

Today, while among the rolling hills on 
the Sacramento and Coloma road, I found a 
native Californian (Spaniard) vainly trying 


to manage a large herd of beef cattle from 
the coast region, intended for the mines. 

For some cause he had been detained, and 
his herdsmen finding a saloon by the road- 
side, had stopped to await his coming, and 
when he arrived were all too drunk to render 
him any assistance; and the cattle, in search 
of water and grass, had scattered among the 

In broken English he told me his difficulty. 
Knowing of a marsh where the grass was still 
green, I mounted one of his herdsmen's 
horses and assisted him to collect and drive 
his cattle to it. It was two or three miles from 
the road, but as grass and water were abun- 
dant and the country around utterly devoid 
of vegetation, he could safely leave his stock 
and spend the night at the Rolling Hills hotel. 

He overwhelmed me with thanks, and 
when I refused pay for the few hours' serv- 
ice, he insisted on taking my name, saying 
his name was Jesus Chico, in English Jesus 
Little. He invited me, if I ever visited Santa 
Clara, to do him the favor of staying at his 
house. He was the first man I ever saw who 
was called Jesus, and the application of the 
name impressed me; afterward, through his 
acquaintance, I became familiar with the 
Spanish language, which somewhat shaped 
the tenor of my life. 


3^n Camp anti CaBm 

Wednesday, Sept. 3, 1851. The state elec- 
tion was held today. California was admit- 
ted into the Union as a state on September 
9, 1850, and though not yet a year old, 
great party spirit has been developed. In this 
locality there are four tickets, Whig, Demo- 
crat, Independent, and Miners and Settlers. 
Still in my teens and not yet old enough to 
vote, I could only look on as an interested 

My health has so improved that tomorrow 
I expect to begin work in the bed of the river 
for the New York company. However, my 
illness has not compelled an entire loss of 
time; besides various explorations, I have 
read Mrs. Sigourney's Oriana^ and The 
Legend of Oxford^ Milton's Paradise Lost^ 
Abbott's Young Christian, and Dana's Two 
Years Before the Mast; all very entertaining 

Friday, Sept. 12. Since the sixth R. Mc- 
Cord has been very sick of fever. Leaving my 
work, I called a physician and devoted my- 
self night and day to his care. He had been 
delirious until this morning he passed the 
crisis, his mind became clear, and though 
weak there are evidences of returning health. 

Some time ago I made an arrangement 
with an express company to have my mail 
taken to, and brought from the post office at 


31 HJeto ^artner^fjip 

Sacramento, and today I was delighted to 
receive two letters; one from sister Loretta, 
the other from brother Edward. Bringing 
good news from a far country, they were in- 
deed as cold water to a thirsty soul. By these 
letters I learned that an uncle, John Steele, 
after whom I was named, and who with his 
brother William left their home in Delaware 
County, New York, fifteen years ago, spend- 
ing ten years in Georgia, from whence they 
removed to Green County, Missouri, where 
William died; and in 1850, Uncle John 
crossed the plains and was now in the vicin- 
ity of Coloma, scarcely twenty miles distant. 
Sending a letter addressed to him at Co- 
loma, I hopefully watched the express mes- 
senger for a reply. Within a week McCord 
had sufficiently recovered to be left alone. 
I had resumed work, when on Saturday, 
September 20, while attending a miner's 
trial as a witness, my uncle, having received 
my letter, came to visit me. Someone pointed 
me out, and he advanced and took me by the 
hand. I had not seen him since I was four 
years old, but I felt less lonesome when he 
told me who he was. While it is true that 
"there is a friend that sticketh closer than a 
brother," it is also true that the clannish 
spirit is natural, and however kindly others 
may regard us, the heart has a craving for 


3^n Camp anb Cabin 

kindred. It was pleasant to recall the various 
members of the family and speak of the old 
and young, from whom we seemed so far. 

Monday, Sept.* 22. Uncle John Steele and 
I made a journey to Coloma. Captain Sut- 
ter's saw-mill stood silent and deserted; the 
bar, through which the race was dug in which 
gold was first discovered by Mr. James Mar- 
shall in January, 1848, had not been mo- 
lested, but the dam had been cut through, 
and the river bed and banks for some dis- 
tance above were filled with busy miners. 

Haifa mile below Coloma the river curves 
around a long spur of the mountain; beneath 
this a tunnel, half a mile long, had been cut, 
and the south fork of the American River 
turned through, leaving the bed for a mile 
and a half quite dry. But the river bed was 
not as rich as anticipated, and I was informed 
that the company lost about forty thousand 
dollars in the enterprise. 

Tuesday, Sept. 23. This is my first anni- 
versary of entering the gold mines, and I am 
thankful that through sickness and suffering 
my life has been spared. 

Today I made the acquaintance of Mr. 
Peter F. Clark, a young man from Missouri, 
and friend of my uncle. Together we visited 
many of the mining operations along the 
river, and finally I concluded to join with 


31 IjJeto ^actner^ljip 

Clark and my uncle in opening a placer mine 
on Snyder's Bar, about three miles below 

Returning to Mormon Island the next day, 
I crossed the river at Kanaka Bar, so named 
because it was occupied by several families of 
Sandwich Islanders and English sailors who 
had married Kanaka women. Ascending the 
mountain on the south side, although the sky 
was cloudless and the day warm I had a very 
pleasant walk in the shadow of the great 
pines. When opposite Salmon Falls, again 
descending into the valley, I recrossed the 
river and followed down its margin to 
Mormon Island. Found McCord much im- 
proved in health; arranged my affairs, and on 
the last of September returned to Snyder's 

Wednesday, Oct. i, 1851. This morning 
my uncle, P. F. Clark, and I set up a long- 
tom and commenced mining on the Bar; but 
not being certain that it would pay, we built 
no cabin; did not even pitch a tent; simply 
fixed our camp under the shelter of some 
trees, a common mode of life here in summer. 

For several days the weather was fine, and 
out-door life very pleasant; but warned by 
some light showers that the rainy season was 
at hand, as our claim was paying pretty well, 
on the twelfth we brought our tents and set 


^n Camp and Cafiin 

them up, making a very comfortable dwell- 
ing. While here, we were relieved from the 
task of bread-making, a baker and butcher 
bringing bread and meat daily to the camps 
along the river, and as our mining was profit- 
able we greatly enjoyed our stay on Snyder's 

Wednesday, Oct. 2 1 . George Scott, a young 
man, tented at the lower end of the Bar, be- 
ing intoxicated for some time, today failed to 
appear; so in the afternoon my uncle went to 
his tent and found him suffering with delir- 
ium tremens. He seemed intelligent, was fairly 
educated, and had but recently acquired the 
drink habit. After taking quite a fortune 
from the mines, while intoxicated he gambled 
it away, and of course when his money was 
gone his companions deserted him. 

We gave him some hot coffee and toast, 
and Clark and I watched with him during 
the night. Toward midnight his mind became 
clear; he was very weak, and for awhile 
seemed to be dying. Giving him a little more 
strong coffee, at last he sunk into a quiet 
sleep. This refreshed him somewhat and for 
breakfast he took some more hot toast and 
coffee, but could not rid himself of the im- 
pression that snakes were crawling over him, 
and that devils were peering into the tent, 
ready to carry him away; and he pled with 


us so piteously not to leave him alone that we 
took him to our tent and my uncle remained 
with him. 

Why is it that when people are reduced 
by drunkenness and debauchery they feel 
snakes, and see devils? Are these their actual 
associates? And are they only discerned 
when the veil of flesh is ready to fall away? 
And how often when the pure in heart and 
life are brought low, they hear sweet music, 
and see angelic beings. Are not these their 
natural associations? 

Scott remained with us several weeks, and 
so regained his health that he did good work; 
but he became restless, and in spite of our 
efforts to persuade him to remain, went to 
Coloma and renewed his dissipated life. The 
fate of George Scott has been the fate of 
thousands from Christian homes, who in the 
absence of home and church associations 
have been tempted and allured to their 
destruction by the drink habit. 

Wednesday, Nov. 5, 1851. On the third 
instant I made a business trip to Mormon 
Island. I was glad to meet my former part- 
ners McCord and Donnelley, with whom I 
had a very pleasant visit, and, returning to 
Snyder's Bar, this morning bade them good- 
bye. We were more than common friends. 
Brothers could not have been more devoted, 


3Fn Camp anti Cabin 

and we confidently expected to meet often, 
but changing our residence and losing each 
other's address, the wild currents of active 
life drifted us strangely apart and we never 
met again. Yet how often I have thought of 
them, and have always hoped that some 
happy chance might bring us together. 

As the fall rains flooded the river we 
worked out our bar as soon as possible, and 
on the tenth began moving our effects to a 
place known as Downing's Ravine, about 
five miles north-east of Coloma, into a cabin 
built by Clark and my uncle last fall. 

The ascent from the river at Coloma was 
steep and difficult, but the place of our resi- 
dence on the mountain was delightful. An 
open forest of pine, burr, and live oaks, with 
an occasional clump of manzanita and cha- 
parral covered the hills, and the ravines were 
rich in gold. 

A small spring near our cabin supplied us 
with water for household use, and we trusted 
that the winter rains would furnish enough 
for gold washing. Here instead of granite, as 
along the river, the underlying rock is slate, 
and on this, mixed with gravel, in the bed of 
the ravines we found the gold. 

This gravel is often cemented with a blue 
clay, which, taken freshly from the ground, 
is difficult to dissolve; like tallow, it seemed 


impervious to water, rolling into small balls 
with the particles of gold adhering, thus car- 
rying it away in the current. However, we 
found that by heaping it on the bank where 
it could dry, it would dissolve in water like 
dust. Some of our best pay was from "tail- 
ings," which had been washed last winter; 
but then the clay had, unsuspected, gathered 
up the gold and carried it away. We there- 
fore devoted our tim.e to digging and heaping 
up the gravel, where it might dry and dis- 
integrate before washing. In the latter part 
of November there fell some copious rains, 
after which there was water for mining until 
March, in most of the ravines. 

At the time of our arrival we seemed to be 
quite alone, but by the last of December 
were in the midst of a numerous population, 
and among our neighbors a large number 
from the gold mines of Georgia. 

Here I noticed the work of the pinonero, a 
bird which picks holes in the bark of trees, 
generally pine, and then drives an acorn into 
each hole. Seeing the bark on the south 
side, seldom if ever on the north side of the 
trees, perforated with holes, nearly an inch 
in depth and diameter, we felt a curiosity to 
know what it meant; but it was all made clear 
when the acorns began to fall, and these 
birds were busy putting them into the holes. 


^Fn Camp antJ Cabin 

Thus removed from the ground, the acorns 
would neither grow nor decay, but furnished 
food for these provident little workers. All 
through the proper season they were con- 
stantly active, either making holes or bring- 
ing acorns. 

White oak and burr oak acorns are much 
larger and of better flavor in California than 
in Wisconsin, and they furnish the Indians 
with a large part of their food. They are often 
cooked and eaten with roasted grasshoppers. 
Not ''locusts and wild honey," but grass- 
hoppers and acorns. 

About two miles from our cabin is a small 
village of Pah Ute Indians, known as Colum- 
bia ranch, which during the winter was in- 
volved in war with a village on the south, or 
opposite side of the American River near 
Placerville. After some weeks of indecisive 
warfare each village, at the same time, sent 
out a war party with the evident intent of 
surprising the other; both made a detour 
eastward among the mountains, and met in 
a valley known as Rock Creek, about four 
miles from the Columbia village, where a 
desperate battle took place, and a considera- 
ble number on either side were killed. The 
Columbia ranch was victorious, but among 
their dead was the oldest son of the chief 
Capitan Juan (pronounced Cap-e-tan Whan) . 


The Indians south of the river, trying to 
involve the Columbia ranch in trouble with 
the whites, sent over a small party which 
shot and killed a white man in Kelsey Canon, 
near the Columbia village. But it so hap- 
pened that a band of the Columbias were 
watching them, gave the alarm, and a party 
of whites pursued the murderers to their 
village, where the Columbia Indians pointed 
out the one who fired the fatal shot. He was 
promptly arrested, but I believe for lack of 
proper evidence was not executed. However, 
his village was greatly frightened, and fear of 
the whites virtually ended the war. 


€\)apttx 7 


EARLY in the spring Peter F. Clark 
and my uncle returned to their homes 
in Missouri, but wishing to see more 
of the country, I worked in the ravines until 
the water dried up, and then made a trip to 
Martinez, at the head of San Francisco Bay, 
bought a horse and started out to explore the 
coast region. 

My route lay between the Coast Range 
and the Pacific Ocean, and it was my inten- 
tion to go as far south as Monterey, of which 
place I had read in Dana's Two Years Before 
the Mast. It was early in April; the rainy 
season was over; and the country was clothed 
in its greatest beauty. 

Mount Diablo, the highest peak in the 
Coast Range, was on my left, and as I crossed 
each spur new scenes of grandeur and beauty 
came into view. The weather was all that 
could be desired; my lonely ride led through 
enchanted grounds, and it seemed that all I 
lacked was companionship to make the en- 
joyment perfect. If Clark and my uncle had 
been with me, or McCord and Donnelley, or 


3tn <&xtm^xon to aio^ ^ngtW 

better than all, my brothers and sister, what 
a delightful journey it would have been! 

But the balmy air, bright sun, and every 
new charm of landscape only added to my 
feeling of loneliness until I seemed to realize 
the force of the aphorism, 

"The friendless owner of the world is poor." 

Fortunately I found an American family 
with whom I stopped the first night, and late 
in the afternoon of the next day called at a 
large adobe residence to inquire as to the 
possibility of finding a hotel, or English 
speaking family, or even the trail to Santa 
Clara. While trying to make myself under- 
stood by a young Spaniard, who met me at 
the gate, a middle-aged gentleman ap- 
proached saying, **Meester Steele please, 
not will travel m-ore today." 

The voice and countenance seemed famil- 
iar, and strangely enough he recognized me 
as the one who came to his relief when his 
herdsmen were drunk and his cattle were 
about to leave him at Rolling Hills on the 
Coloma road. 

Leaving my horse in charge of the young 
man, Seiior Don Jesus Chico very politely 
led me through a large gate into an open 
court, surrounded by a veranda, into a large 
room furnished with upholstered lounge and 


2fn Camp and Cabhi 

chairs, two small tables, and on the walls a 
variety of pictures. Here I was introduced to 
his family, consisting of Mrs. Chico, their 
two daughters, Guadalupe and Jesucita, and 
their son, Hernando. They were all very 
polite and kind, but only the father was able 
to converse in English, and his words and 
sentences were very broken. Now I felt the 
need of a knowledge of the Spanish language, 
and resolved to devote my time while in that 
region to its study and practice. 

Senor Chico informed me that his son 
Hernando and a number of herdsmen were 
about to go south on a business trip, and 
they would wait until I was rested and I 
could go with them and see the country. It 
was just the opportunity I wanted, so I told 
him it would suit my convenience to start 
with his son in the morning, and at the time 
of my return he might expect me to converse 
with him in Spanish, and his son to join v/ith 
us in talking English. 

But he insisted that I should remain at 
least one day, and, pleased with my de- 
sire to learn Spanish, at once became my 
teacher, and soon put me in possession of 
quite a stock of Spanish words and phrases. 
In the evening the daughters sang several 
Spanish songs, accompanied with the guitar, 
and insisted that I should sing something 


atn €xtnt^ion to ito^ angeled 

in English. I therefore sang a little ditty, 
named Hope. 

"She comes our path to lighten, 
To twine the diamond band: 

Uniting earth and heaven; 
That happy spirit land." &c. 

The next day was devoted to talk for Senor 
Chico, or Mr. Little, as he liked to be ad- 
dressed among his Spanish neighbors, and 
his son desired to hear me converse in Eng- 
lish, and I was just as well pleased to follow 
them in pronouncing Spanish. In the mean- 
time we visited the neighboring ranches and 
the hamlet of Santa Clara, where I pur- 
chased a Spanish and English primer to 
assist in conversation with the people. 

Wednesday, April 7, 1852. This morning 
Don Chico proposed that I take one of his 
horses and leave mine to rest, but his kind 
offer was thankfully declined, and about nine 
in the forenoon our horses were ready. With 
a prayer that I might be under the protection 
of God and enjoy the journey, and an earnest 
invitation to return to their house, they bade 
me good-bye, and I stepped to my horse, 
ready to mount. Hernando, kneeling before 
his father received his blessing; then after 
embracing his mother and sisters, mounted 
his horse, and with an affectionate Adios, we 
rode away. 


3^11 Camp anti CaBin 

Native Californians are noted for their 
fast riding. Hernando was no exception, and 
soon we were out of sight of the Chico resi- 
dence, but for some time neither was able to 
break the silence, and engage in conversa- 
tion. So many things we wanted to talk 
about, but because we spoke different lan- 
guages our lips were sealed. The silence was 
oppressive. At last I thought of my primer, 
and found, in Spanish and English, the ques- 
tion. What do you call this ? — iComo se llama 

This was the key that unlocked our lips, 
and though sometimes it seemed like a vain 
repetition, our conversation never again 
lagged. Before noon I had learned from him 
that four herdsmen had started early, and 
we would overtake them at the foot of a hill, 
by a spring among the trees; and he repeated 
the information to me, or rather after me, in 

On many of the slopes there were large 
oak trees, which, instead of growing upright, 
curved to the incline of the hillside, so that 
though they were fifty or sixty feet in length, 
a person on horseback could touch the top- 
most bough. At noon we descended into a 
ravine among large oak trees, and there at 
the spring we found the four herdsmenv 
vaqueros. Having kindled a fire, they were 


an €jt:cur^ion to Hojef 3tngrie^ 

preparing dinner, which consisted of bread 
made thin like pancakes, and then rolled up; 
cold boiled beans, well seasoned with red 
pepper, dried beef, and strong, hot coffee. 
They also had wine, which they greatly 
praised, and seemed surprised because I re- 
fused to drink it. I learned afterward that 
my refusal made them doubt my being an 

For nearly two weeks we traveled through 
a most beautiful country. The houses were in 
clusters, and around them were many fine 
orchards and vineyards. Sometimes we 
passed through valleys which swarmed with 
cattle, and for two days Hernando and I, 
leaving the herdsmen, rode out of our direct 
route to obtain views of notable cliffs, canons, 
and of the sea. At two points we rode out 
upon cliffs which seemed to overhang the 
sea, where we could feel the rock tremble as 
the strong Pacific tide came rolling in. 

Following up the Salinas River, we entered 
upon a mountainous region of wonderful 
beauty, and finally descended to La Ciudad 
de los Angeles (The city of the Angels) . About 
a mile north of the city we stopped with the 
family of Hernando's uncle named Jimnes. 
Here we remained two days to let our horses 
rest, and I was glad of the opportunity, being 
almost tired out with the long ride. Owing 


^Tn Camp anb CaBm 

to fatigue some objects of interest were not 
visited; but at the Jimnes home the orchards, 
vineyards, and flowers, with the deHghtful 
climate, impressed one with the idea that 
here was the veritable Garden of Eden. 

Leaving Los Angeles, we traveled nearly 
due north, and the first day passed beyond 
the settlements. Some parts of the country 
had a desert appearance, and the distance 
was long between watering places. Hereto- 
fore we had stopped at a house for the night 
and had always been cordially received, but 
most of the way on our return journey we 
lived in camp and slept on the ground under 
the sheltering branches of trees; but the 
ground was dry, the air pleasant, and the 
stars looked brightly down from a clear sky. 

At last we struck the headwaters of Cu- 
yama Creek, followed down it half a day's 
journey, and then through the uplands on 
the right. Here the herdsmen spent several 
days in collecting a herd of beef cattle. When 
a few were brought together, they were 
driven into a small valley, where there was 
plenty of grass and water. Here they were 
guarded until more were gathered, and then 
all were driven a good day's journey to some 
other place abounding in grass and water, 
where, being tired, they would remain very 
quietly. But just as soon as they were rested 


an oEjCcur^ion to Ho^ ^nQtW 

or became uneasy they were started again. 
Thus cattle were sometimes driven around in 
the same locality, simply to keep them from 

These cattle when first approached were 
generally very wild, and would sometimes 
scatter in all directions; but, unless chased, 
they would soon come together again. If 
hemmed in, they would turn and fight, and 
then were exceedingly dangerous, it requiring 
great skill and presence of mind in m.anaging 
a horse when attacked. However, our herds- 
men understood all about it, and would so 
drop their riatas as to entangle and tame the 
most furious. And after an animal had been 
overthrown a few times, when approached by 
a horseman he would generally stop and 
shake his head as if expecting to be caught. 

When the herd, which numbered over 
three hundred, had been collected and 
branded the journey was resumed; and driv- 
ing them before us, we descended into the val- 
ley of the Salinas, following down until we 
struck the trail by which we first came to 
the river. As the herd was now accustomed 
to be driven, and tired enough not to wander 
nights, Hernando and I went on in advance, 
leaving the herdsmen to bring the cattle. 

In that early day, when there were no 
fences, each animal in the ranchero's herd, 


^Tn Camp anti Cabin 

horse, cattle, or sheep, was known by its 
brand, and it was the duty of his herdsmen 
to see that all the young stock were branded; 
and anyone finding an animal of two years 
or older without a brand had the right to 
keep it. 

Of course, unbranded stock were strays 
that had left the ranches when young. They 
were generally found in the mountain region 
and were known as ganados silvestres (wild 
cattle), or simply silvestres (wild ones). It 
was these that Hernando and his herdsmen 
were in search of, and as fast as captured 
they were branded, driven to his father's 
ranch, and ultimately to the mines and sold 
for beef. 

On this trip I learned that the average 
California horse understood the m.ovements 
and methods of the chase about as well as 
his rider. It was interesting to see him dodge 
the horns of a furious steer; how quick to 
notice when the riata caught an animal, and 
place himself in a position to receive the 
strain when it tightened on the pommel of 
the saddle with a shock that would often 
throw the steer headlong. Such exercise was 
very exhilarating, and with just enough dan- 
ger to make it attractive. My horse was an 
American, a dark chestnut Morgan; of fair, 
but not extra speed, spirited, but entirely 


an (fijtcur^ion to 3lo^ ^.ttgele^ 

unacquainted with the maneuvers of the 
herdsman; and therefore, several times I 
found myself at a disadvantage, and in 
dangerous positions, and appreciated, as at 
first I could not, the kindness of Seiior Don 
Chico in offering me a well drilled horse. 

On the third day after leaving the herd 
we reached the Chico residence and were 
welcomed by Senora Chico with '' Mil gracios 
a Dios por su venida sin dano'* (A thousand 
thanks to God for your safe return). The 
greeting of all was so cordial that they made 
me seem like one of the family. And although 
it was scarcely a month since I began the 
study and practice of the Spanish tongue, I 
found myself able, with an occasional help 
from the primer, to converse quite intelli- 
gently. In the meantime Hernando was 
making good progress in the practice of 
English. I could hardly call it a study. But 
with me, I heard nothing but Spanish, only 
when my own words were echoed back by 
Hernando. Evidently the best method of 
learning to speak a foreign tongue is to hear, 
talk, and think in no other. 

It was my intention to return at once to 
the mines, but Hernando insisted that my 
horse should rest a few days while with an- 
other I accompanied him on various excur- 
sions in the neighborhood, which he had 


3^n Camp anti Ca6m 

planned. Sometimes his sisters, Guadalupe 
and Jesucita, rode with us, and while they 
were polite and reserved towards me, they 
were ready to hear and quick to understand 
and reply in all seriousness to my conversa- 
tion, yet, I felt sure, they were often merry, 
when by themselves, over my lame efforts to 
form sentences and pronounce words in 

In thus traveling with Hernando I saw 
many of the native Californians, visited their 
homes, observed their business methods, and 
was impressed with their lives of content- 
ment and leisure. No one seemed to be in a 
hurry except when on horseback, and then 
they almost invariably moved at a sweeping 
gallop. But there was time to talk, and rest, 
and wait. 

In business affairs they seemed to have 
adopted the maxim, "Never do today what 
can be put off until tomorrow." Around these 
quiet homes and drowsy hamlets there was 
the greatest possible contrast with the 
promptness, struggle, and rush at the mines, 
where people could hardly find time to eat, 
rest, or sleep; these Californians scarcely 
found time for anything else. 

All classes seemed at home in the saddle; 
in fact it might be said of many that they 
spent their active life on horseback. The 


an €j:cur^ion to %o$ ^tngele^e? 

little babe when eight days old, is taken by 
the padrinos (godfather and godmother) on 
horseback to the priest, when it is christened; 
and afterward, nearly every day the child is 
carried somewhere on horseback, so that each 
one's earliest recollection is associated with 
the horse. 

I believe that the native Californians 
(Spanish) were all devout members of the 
Roman Catholic church; they paid special 
attention to its ceremonials and reverenced 
the priesthood; but priests and people were 
addicted to drinking wine, made from the 
native grape, and a kind of brandy made 
from fruit; and drunkenness was sadly prev- 
alent among all classes. Another unfortu- 
nate habit was that of gambling, in a great 
variety of forms, and the strange thing about 
it was that none seemed to consider either 
drunkenness or gambling a vice. 

No people could be more kind or hospita- 
ble. Politeness seemed natural. They never 
passed each other with indifference; and if 
one was about to shoot you he would proba- 
bly first give you a most polite salutation. 

For many years stock-raising had been 
about the only industry in this country; 
hence, the almost constant use of the horse. 
A few years ago, ships from the United 
States and other countries came around 


3Fn Camp anb Cafiin 

Cape Horn to this coast for hides and tal- 
low. In those days the flesh, having no com- 
mercial value, was thrown away. Since the 
discovery of gold, and the mines afforded a 
market, the meat only is salable, the hides 
and tallow being thrown away. This was in 
1852, when cattle were slaughtered in the 
mines, and freights were too high to admit of 
the transportation of hides, tallow, and such 
things to the sea coast. 

Thursday, May 6, 1852. This morning I 
said Adios to the Chico family. At parting 
Senor Chico laying his hand upon my head 
solemnly invoked the Divine blessing, and 
that God would keep me in all my ways. 
Hernando traveled with me until near noon, 
when we took an affectionate leave of each 
other, tears filling his eyes as he said "Good- 
bye, and God be with you." Among the 
pleasantest memories of my life is my tour 
through the Spanish settlements of Califor- 
nia, and my association with the Chico 

At Martinez, selling my horse to the same 
man from whom I had bought it, I boarded 
a steamboat for Sacramento, where I pur- 
chased Ollendorff's new method of learning 
Spanish, also a reader and dictionary to as- 
sist in a proper study of that tongue, and 
taking the stage for Coloma, sixty-four miles 


an (Sjccur^ton to 3lo^ ^uqcW 

distant, in due time arrived at my cabin in 
Downing's Ravine. 

I now learned, what before I had not even 
suspected, that many of the Indians were 
famihar with the Spanish language. Widely 
dispersed throughout the country were those 
who a few years ago were in the employ of 
Captain John A. Sutter; some as laborers, 
and many others as drilled and disciplined 
soldiers at his fort. The change in the govern- 
ment, the inflow of immigration, and the 
building of Sacramento City had broken up 
the old order and dispersed the soldiers and 
laborers, and while they still retained their 
native dialect, the Spanish language in 
which they had been trained was not for- 

On reaching Downing's Ravine and learn- 
ing that smallpox was prevalent among the 
miners, fearing exposure and attack, I im- 
mediately returned to Sacramento for the 
purpose of being vaccinated, and remained 
until it became effective. 

On my return, meeting with Captain Juan, 
chief of the Columbia village, he told me in 
Spanish, with which I found that most of 
them were familiar, that one of his people 
had died of smallpox, and others were sick. 
Explaining how a person, by vaccination, 
could escape, I showed him my arm, telling 


9^n Camp anti Cafiin 

him I had no fear, for after a person was 
vaccinated smallpox would not make him 
very sick, and taking some of the virus from 
my arm, I vaccinated the chief and his son, 
who happened to be with him. 

Having in my cabin a hawk's wing, I took 
a quill, and filling it with the virus from my 
arm, went with him to the village and vac- 
cinated quite a number, showed them how, 
and advised them to vaccinate every one, old 
and young. 

These Indians burn their dead. A pile, 
usually of dry manzanita about six feet long, 
three high, and three wide, is prepared and 
the body, neatly rolled in a blanket or other 
clothing, is laid thereon. Fire is then applied. 
The people form a circle around it, and led 
by a master of ceremonies, engage in a 
mournful chant, or dirge. 

Respect for the dead is indicated by the 
value of the offerings placed on the fire. 
When the body is reduced to a cinder, it is 
taken out of the fire, folded in a cloth, and 
sometimes wrapped with strings of beads. 
When it has been properly prepared by the 
leader, it is passed from hand to hand around 
the circle and each one upon its reception, 
turning away from the fire and holding it up 
at arm's length, says reverently, "To Thee O 


3ln oJjccut^ion to %o^ ^Ingele^ 

When it has gone around the circle the em- 
bers and coals are raked together and the 
master of ceremonies again commits it to the 
fire; and when it has been burned to ashes 
they are taken up and the nearest relatives 
use them to paint black lines upon their 
faces. These are the emblems of mourning, 
and the form in which the paint is put on 
indicates the relationship of the mourner to 
the deceased. 

Aware that the entire village would soon 
feel the effects of the vaccination, and fear- 
ful that they might think that I intended to 
kill them all, it seemed to me prudent to 
keep out of their way for awhile. So in com- 
pany with John Ford, a young man from 
Georgia, I made a trip to San Andres, explor- 
ing the Mokelumne, Calaveras, and Stanis- 
laus rivers. 

In California the different nationalities did 
not always harmonize. Those of different 
speech, not being able to understand each 
other, sometimes had serious quarrels. 

Such we found to be the condition at the 
mining town of Mokelumne Hill. Reaching 
the place about dark, after supper we walked 
through the village to converse with the 
miners who had come in from their work. 
Passing into a large store, which seemed 
thronged, we were addressed in Spanish, to 


2Fn Camp anD Cabin 

which I replied in the same tongue. Mr. Ford 
made some inquiry in English, when I heard 
some one exclaim with an oath, "/£j Ameri- 
cano^ matelel imatelel (He is an American, kill 
him! kill him!). 

At first I doubted my understanding of the 
words; but when a knife was flourished, and 
a rush made at Ford, knowing there was no 
mistake, I grasped the arm which held the 
knife, as it came down; and yet, in trying to 
parry the blow, Ford had his right hand 
severely cut. With a bound we were out of 
the store, and utterly bewildered at the un- 
provoked attack, lost no time in reaching 
our hotel. 

The landlord informed us that for some 
time a bitter feud about some mining claims 
had existed between the Spanish and the 
English speaking people; that they lived in 
separate parts of the town; and this after- 
noon there had been a collision, several shots 
had been fired, and probably some one had 
been killed. In our ignorance of the condi- 
tions we had wandered over into the Spanish 
end of the town, and hence the clash. Ford's 
wound was dressed, and early the next morn- 
ing we left the warlike camp. 

At San Andres I found the solution of a 
puzzle which had been presented in Down- 
ing's Ravine. 


^n €jtrcur^ion to Ho^ ^Ingele^ 

One night shortly before starting south 
one of my neighbors, a gentleman from 
Georgia, brought to my cabin a fine looking 
man, whom he introduced as Colonel Davis, 
brother of the senator from Mississippi, who 
was making the tour of California, and 
would like to stop with me in my cabin a 
few days. 

It was not often that I was honored with 
a guest possessing such distinguished affilia- 
tions, and I therefore did my best to make his 
stay pleasant. Telling him of my plan to visit 
some of the southern mines, I expressed the 
thought that if he had not already been 
there, we might go together as far as Jackson 
or San x^ndres. 

"Have you friends there?" he inquired. I 
thought I had, if I could only find them. In 
fact I found two at Volcano, James and 
William S. Hanford of Walton, New York. 

The next morning I apologized for our 
plain fare, but we hoped to have something 
better for dinner, and he said I might expect 
him precisely at noon. Noon came, dinner 
was ready, but the Colonel failed to appear, 
and I never saw him. again; nor could I find 
anyone who had seen him after he left my 

My Georgia neighbor who introduced 
him knew not where he had gone. I was 


3Fn Camp anti Cabin 

greatly puzzled, and feared that his friends 
might suspect me of being his murderer. But 
after reaching San Andres the mystery was 
cleared up. A man named Davis, answering 
exactly to the Colonel's description, had 
lived at San Andres, but whether really any 
relation to Senator Jefferson Davis miight be 
doubted, although there was a resemblance 
in person and features. 

While under the influence of liquor he 
went into a barber shop kept by a negro, 
whose family occupied part of the same 
house. Going into the family room he in- 
sulted the barber's wife, and was ordered 
out. Not being inclined to go, the barber 
came to protect his wife, and very properly 
demanded, "Leave here. Sir, or I'll kick 
you out." The so-called Colonel deliberately 
turned to him and said, "No white man ever 
talked that way to me and lived"; and, 
presenting a pistol, shot the barber dead in 
the presence of his family. 

The murderer, pursued by the indignant 
citizens, tried to make his escape, but in 
crossing a ravine filled with washings from 
the mines above, he sunk in the mire and was 
captured. He was neither shot, hanged, nor 
burned; but was handed over to the sheriff 
of Amador County and lodged in the jail at 


^n (fijccur^ion to %c0 ^nstW 

Of course there was great indignation 
against the murderer, and a few nights after 
his arrest a crowd appeared before the jail 
and demanded the prisoner. The sheriff, sup- 
posing they intended to kill him, made the 
jail as secure as possible, and tried to per- 
suade them to let the law take its course. 

In the meantime another small party came, 
privately assuring the sheriff that it would 
be impossible to keep the mob out and that 
the only way to save the prisoner and honor 
the law was to place him quietly in their 
hands, permitting them, without the knowl- 
edge of anyone in or about the jail, to remove 
him to another place, and after the mob had 
searched in vain, of course the sheriff would 
be honored for the wisdom of his strategy. 

The plan was adopted, the prisoner de- 
livered up, and under cover of the night 
conveyed to a place of safety. After a little 
more parley, the sheriff informed the mob 
that the prisoner had been removed and was 
entirely beyond their reach, and to verify his 
words invited them to come in and search 
the jail. Not finding him, they concluded 
that the sheriff was the right man in the 
right place, and the public interests were 
safe in his hands. 

But the sheriff never again saw his pris- 
oner, he having been placed in the hands of 


^n Camp ann Cabin 

his friends and associates, who not only 
wanted to get him away from the mob, but 
out of the hands of the sheriff, and they suc- 
ceeded. Just how the sheriff settled with the 
county I am not certain, but I was told that 
he claimed his prisoner was finally taken by 
a mob, and whether put to death he did not 

He was evidently the same man who 
stopped with me in Downing's Ravine, and 
his friend, my Georgian neighbor, was help- 
ing him to escape justice. No wonder he 
became alarmed and skipped out at the 
mention of San Andres. Truly, "The wicked 
flee, when no man pursueth." 

About this time a Mexican named Joaquin, 
a notorious desperado and leader of a gang, 
who, by murder and robbery, were a terror 
to the country, had been traced to the 
neighborhood of San Andres. One evening, 
while at supper in a hotel, he, being unknown 
to any about the place, seated himself at the 
supper table. Back of him was an open win- 
dow, and some twenty feet below was a 
water ditch probably ten feet wide, and on 
the opposite side were piles of broken rock. 
He faced the door and windows, which opened 
upon the street, and as I sat nearly opposite 
to him at the table, my back was towards 
the door. He was a fine looking man and I 


ain 4BjCcur^ion to 3lo^ angeled 

had no idea who he was, but judged from his 
appearance that he was a Mexican, and 
wishing to improve every opportunity to 
practice my newly acquired Spanish, I gave 
him the usual salutation, '' iComo le va, 
Seiior?'' (How do you do. Sir?"). 

'' Muy bien, iDe donde V.f (Very well, 
where are you from ?) . 

''Del norte^ cerca de Coloma' (From the 
north, near Colom.a). 

As neither he nor any of his gang had 
operated in that region, he was evidently 
sure that I had no suspicion as to who he 
was, and so the conversation ran on. 

Suddenly he arose, turned to the window, 
and as several shots were fired, sprang out. 
Whether he was hit I do not know, but it 
was a desperate jump across the ditch upon 
those rocks; and although it was hardly dark, 
he disappeared in a large growth of chaparral 
just beyond and made his escape. The sheriff's 
posse had surrounded the house except on 
that side, not thinking it possible that any- 
one could pass in safety from that window. 

Seated with my back toward the entrance, 
I had not seen the attacking party; but there 
were those who had observed me in con- 
versation with Joaquin, and under suspicion, 
I was held until the pursuers returned, and 
then put through a rigid examination. 


3^11 Camp anti Cabin 

Mr. Ford explained whence, how, and 
when I came to San Andres; but his wounded 
hand excited distrust, and for awhile both 
of us were in serious danger; not from the 
sheriff and his posse, who were satisfied with 
our innocence, but from the unreasoning 
crowd, insisting that we belonged to Joa- 
quin's gang and, of course, ought to be 
lynched. I am sure that one who has never 
faced such a condition can have no idea of 
the situation. However, we were both young; 
certainly not hardened criminals; and as I 
could refer to well known men in Coloma 
and Sacramento, we were at last entirely 
relieved from suspicion. 

A large reward was offered for the capture 
of Joaquin, dead or alive, and a year or two 
after this he was killed by a sheriff in trying 
to effect his arrest. 


Ci^apter 8 


TWO weeks from my departure south 
I returned to my cabin, and was 
surprised to find myself regarded by 
the Columbia Indians as a great medicine 
man. Most of those taken with smallpox had 
died, but after vaccination there were no 
new cases; and it was, no doubt, well for 
them that they burned their dead; thus, with 
them, consuming their infected clothing. 

The Chief, Capitan Juan, accompanied by 
his son and the principal men of the village, 
made me a formal visit, thanking me for the 
benefits conferred in vaccinating them, and 
asking whether there was anything they could 
do for me. In reply I told them it was my 
wish that we might be friends, and that they 
would treat me as a brother. 

The Chief carried a beautiful cedar bow, 
along the convex side of which, as neatly as 
the bark on a hickory sapling, was fastened 
the sinew from a deer's leg. He had also 
twenty-five feathered and flint-pointed ar- 
rows in a quiver resembling a fox skin, only 
the hair was black. 


2Fn €amp anti Cabin 

After an examination I inquired, "Would 
you sell them?" He said, "No, I will give 
them to you." Then calling the attention of 
those present, he said, '' Este arco, estas 
flechas con esta piel de jau, pertenece a mi 
joven hermano bianco^ (This bow, these ar- 
rows, with this fox skin, belong to my young 
white brother) and rising up he placed them 
in my hands. 

I was greatly pleased with the gift, and 
with sincere thanks assured him that they 
would always remind me of Captain Juan 
and his people. I kept them with greatest 
care, and when on m.y way to New York had 
them in a neat box, but while going down the 
San Juan River in Central America they 
were stolen from the boat. 

Among the first with whom I became ac- 
quainted in the vicinity of Downing's Ravine, 
was Elijah Barker, a colored man about 
forty years old, a slave, whose owner, James 
Barker, had brought him from Georgia. 
Peter F. Clark and my uncle had known him 
nearly a year longer than I, and spoke of him 
as an excellent Christian man. 

His master, generally known as "Jeems" 
Barker, had the reputation of being un- 
steady. After reaching the mines he was soon 
out of money, but Elijah was hired out, and 
when he had earned enough money "Jeems" 


^paniiBff) flat anti €txa$ 25ar 

concluded to go back to Georgia where ex- 
penses would be less. He would have taken 
Elijah with him but for lack of means. How- 
ever, Elijah was at work, and doubtless 
when some of "Jeems*" Georgia neighbors 
were ready to return, he would have earned 
enough to pay his fare and might go with 

But he discovered a mine, and working on 
his own account, was soon in possession of 
considerable gold. Very industrious, he 
worked in his mine during the day and often 
in the evenings washed clothes for the miners. 

My uncle had read to him the letters sent 
by his master, answered them, and assisted 
him in business matters; and after he left, 
Elijah came to me for such help, and so by 
reading and writing his letters and assisting 
in his business, I became familiar with all his 
affairs. He was intelligent and sociable, and 
related many incidents, some humorous, 
others exceedingly sad, all of which gave me 
an inside view of slavery. 

Slaves took the surname of their master, 
and he, by being sold, had his name changed 
three times, and finally, being given as a 
dower to James Barker's wife, took the name 
of Barker. He was married and had two 
children, but his wife belonged to a man 
named Grove. He often spoke of them, and 


S^n €amp anb €ahin 

always sent them an affectionate message in 
the letters addressed to his master. 

He was much worried, fearing the Grove 
estate might be sold, in which event he might 
never see his wife and children again, and 
sometimes when expressing these fears he 
would break down and weep bitterly. 

Of course I was interested. Grove had come 
to California, and learning that he wanted 
to sell his slaves and bring his family, I sug- 
gested to Elijah that he buy his wife and 
children and have them come with Grove's 
family to California, where they would not 
only all be together, but free, because 
slavery was not recognized in California. 

He replied, "Yes, Massa John, Ize thought 
'bout dat; but it can't be done." And then he 
sobbed as though his heart would break. 

"O, yes," said I, 'Til transact the busi- 
ness for you, and you need not pay a cent 
until they are here; and if you lack means 
I'll make it up, and trust you to make it 
good." Still he objected, but always, when 
we met, the conversation turned upon that 

At last a letter came from his master, re- 
questing Elijah to return with certain Geor- 
gians who were about to leave California. 

When they were ready to start, he came 
to bid me good-bye; and I made my final 


cSpani^f) flat anb Cejtra^ 25at 

appeal, urging him to rescue his wife and 
children, and showing how happy they could 
all live together in California. It was evi- 
dently his greatest desire; but instead of ac- 
quiescence he utterly broke down and wept 
for a long time. At last, with a great effort, 
overcoming his emotion, he wiped away his 
tears and rising up, said with deep solemnity, 
"Massa John, de Lord heard me promise 
Massa Jeems dat I'd come back, an ob cose 
I will." 

Nothing could tempt him to break his 
word. From that time he seemed to me like 
one of the old saints or martyrs. All his life 
a slave, and yet so -near to God. As surely as 
that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of 
wisdom he was wise. In the presence of such 
faithfulness I felt humbled. 

With an earnest prayer for my salvation, 
prosperity, and happiness, bidding me good- 
bye he started for Georgia and slavery. But 
he died on the way; Massa Jeems obtained 
his earnings, and his wife and children were 
sold with the Grove estate; and yet, it is 
possible that they are all together in a better 
home than all the wealth of California could 

In the early history of the mines a com- 
pany of Mexicans occupied a prairie-like 
slope about three miles from my cabin. 


5^n Camp anD Cabin 

They were joined by some native Califor- 
nians and Chilenos, and, as they all spoke 
Spanish, the place was known as Spanish 
Flat. Westward about a mile through dense 
pines was a similar place, occupied by a com- 
pany of x^merican miners, and hence, called 
the American Flat. 

About one hundred Chilenos arrived in 
San Francisco, and coming out to the mines, 
very naturally came to those who spoke their 
own tongue; and so, in the latter part of June, 
1852, Spanish Flat became quite populous. 

One Sunday, when the American company, 
only five or six in number, were away, some 
persons claiming ownership sold the Ameri- 
can mine to the newly arrived Chilenos, and 
receiving the price, a considerable sum, left 
before the fraud was discovered and they 
identified. Having bought not only the mine, 
but the mining implements, the Chilenos 
immediately began work, and when Messrs. 
Burt and Grove, the real owners, returned 
on Monday morning they found that their 
claim had been "jumped." Probably a hun- 
dred men were in possession, and ready to 
hold it by force of arms; and as they spoke 
different languages, explanation was im- 

Messengers were sent to the nearest min- 
ing camps, asking the men to bring their 


J>j>ani^l) flat anti ^era^ 25ar 

rifles and other weapons, and to assemble on 
the ridge above the American Flat. At that 
time, June 7, 1852, most of the miners had 
left the uplands for the rivers; and by three 
in the afternoon, rifle in hand, I reached the 
rendezvous, where only some forty had 

A man named Murphy explained the affair 
as he understood it. He knew nothing of the 
sale, but stated in effect that probably one 
hundred or more Chilenos on Sunday had 
taken forcible possession of Messrs. Burt 
and Grove's claim and tools, and refusing to 
give them up, threatened to shoot whoever 
interfered. Of course such a force would soon 
work out the mine, and he proposed that the 
miners present drive away the Chilenos 
robbers, shooting them down if necessary, 
take possession of the sluices before they 
were cleaned up and the gold panned out, 
and restore the property to Burt and 
Grove, whom we all knew to be the rightful 

All agreed to this, and after some pre- 
liminary drill and the understanding that 
in the event of a fight we must stand by each 
other, the little company left the timber 
and marched for the mine. It was only about 
forty rods from our place of meeting, and at 
our appearance the Chilenos, dropping their 


^Tn Camp auti Cabin 

implements, took up their guns and imme- 
diately formed a line of defense. 

They were, no doubt, expecting us, and 
had been reenforced from the Spanish Flat. 
Without the least parley or chance of peace- 
ful agreement, our leader seemed about to 
precipitate a bloody conflict. But at his 
command, when within about fifteen or 
twenty rods of their front we gave a yell, 
and made a rush, at the same time raising 
our rifles as if ready to fire. Just then a few 
left the center of their line, taking shelter 
behind a bank of earth, and the next moment 
the whole body was in confusion and rushing 
for the timber in the direction of Spanish 

Fortunately not a gun had been fired on 
either side. We followed them, but they kept 
well in the advance, and as we came out of 
the timber, a native Californian met us, 
gesticulating and shouting, " /Dos horas! jdos 
horasV (Two hours! two hours!). Soon it was 
understood that the Chilenos wanted two 
hours in which to get ready to leave; but our 
leader gave them to understand that if they 
were not gone in one hour, they might expect 
to be fired on. Many of our company, con- 
sidering them robbers and dangerous char- 
acters, were willing to shoot them down; and 
probably within half an hour the Chilenos 


^pani^l) flat and Cejra^ 25ai: 

who had participated in working the Burt 
and Grove claim had all gone. 

In the meantime I had an interview with 
the Californian, and he related the story 
of the sale; said it was made in good faith, 
and that he, with others present, would be 
able to recognize those who had sold the 
claim and received the money. When I told 
Murphy, our leader, he insisted that they 
should come and see whether those who 
made the fraudulent sale were in our com- 
pany; but after an examination they decided 
that they were not. 

However, they so described them that 
some of our company recognized them as 
two men who had followed gambling in this 
vicinity. The villains were not found; but the 
unfortunate Chilenos lost their money, and 
were driven like criminals from the com- 

I was decidedly ashamed of my participa- 
tion in the affair, and lost no opportunity of 
explaining to both Spanish and English 
speaking people the perfect innocence of the 
Chilenos. But it was a terrible danger to all 
concerned; and the Californian who was with 
them said, had it not been that they were far 
from home and surrounded by a people with 
whom they could not converse, the Chilenos 
would have stood their ground and shot us 


5rn Camp anti CaBtn 

down, for they believed we were simply a 
band of robbers after their property. 

Early in June, 1852, Thomas Finney, John 
Stevenson, John Van Benschoten, and I 
organized a mining company to operate on 
Texas Bar on the south fork of the American 
River, and when the river had fallen to the 
proper stage we commenced work, putting 
in a very profitable summer. 

It was only about two miles from Placer- 
ville, then generally known as Hangtown, 
from the fact that at that place five men had 
been hung the same day on one tree. As 
related to me by one who professed to have 
been an eye witness, there was in the village 
a saloon and gambling den known as the 
headquarters of a notorious gang of thugs. 
Men supposed to have gold were killed and 
robbed on the streets at night; others were 
murdered in their cabins. No one felt safe, 
either on the street or at his work; and yet 
no one doubted as to who were the criminals. 
Finally, at the funeral of a man whose mur- 
der and robbery had been traced to certain 
gamblers, the citizens resolved that every 
professional gambler, that is, every one who 
followed no other occupation, must leave 
town within twenty-four hours. 

At this the thugs became more bitter and 
defiant than ever, and a leading citizen who 


J^pani^I) flat anti Ztxa^ 25at 

had obtained evidence involving four of them 
in the murder was shot and killed while 
passing their headquarters. 

The enraged miners immediately gathered, 
surrounded the saloon, and finding the four 
against whom charges of murder had been 
made, and who were suspected of firing the 
recent fatal shots, seized and bound them 
hands and feet and without further ceremony- 
hung them to a tree. 

The proprietor of the saloon became very 
angry, charged the crowd with murder, and 
threatened to avenge the death of his pa- 
trons. The mob was in no mood to listen 
to such talk. There were those present whose 
friends had been shot down and robbed, as 
they believed by those men; and suspecting 
that he was an accomplice in their crimes, a 
rope was quietly obtained and suddenly the 
noose was slipped over his head, and he was 
dragged to the tree and hung up with the 
rest. Although the twenty-four hours were 
not yet expired, the mob concluded to finish 
the business and get rid of the professional 
gamblers. But upon making search not one 
could be found; they had taken the hint and 

This affair occurred more than a year be- 
fore we began work on Texas Bar, but we 
found that many of the roughs had returned, 


5Fn Camp anli Cafiin 

or others had come, and quarrels and shoot- 
ings were of frequent occurrence; but so long 
as they were confined to the saloon element, 
the citizens paid little attention to them. 

Placerville was the base of supplies for a 
large mining region. As in other mining 
camps, so on Texas Bar, provisions and 
mining implements were paid for by the 
miners and distributed by the merchants. 
And so it often happened that miners going 
to Placerville bought not only for their own, 
but for other companies, and thus often 
carried large quantities of gold. 

Mr. Anderson, one of these agents from 
Chili Bar, half a mile down the river from 
our camp, on his way to Placerville in the 
early part of July, 1852, was murdered and 
robbed in Placer Canon. A week later an- 
other miner met a similar fate near Placer- 

These murders created a profound sensa- 
tion, and while there was a lack of positive 
evidence, there were strong suspicions of 
guilt resting on certain persons; and in many 
camps the question was discussed of making 
another raid on the saloons and gamblers, 
but many people had been intimidated and 
feared their enmity. 

As a matter of fact, those who were re- 
cently killed had given offense by publicly 


^pani^l^ flat anti Cejca^^ 25ac 

suggesting the suppression of the thug ele- 
ment; and, with others, had been threatened 
with violence. But while people generally 
would feel safer to have them suppressed 
there was a common hesitation about op- 
posing them, and individuals shrunk from 
becoming targets for their wrath. 

While miners, merchants, and mechanics 
had real interests at stake, those dreaded 
enemies of society, after the commission of 
crime, need only run and hide themselves in 
some other locality. None better understood 
the force of bravado and bluff; and busy 
people, while engaged in their business pur- 
suits, were often greatly annoyed by them, 
though sometimes their reckless interference 
brought them to grief. I give an example. 

One afternoon in the latter part of August, 
1852, 1 went to Placerville for supplies. After 
I had completed my purchases and was ready 
to return, I discovered two desperate charac- 
ters on horseback parading the streets. Both 
were, or pretended to be, intoxicated, and 
flourishing large revolvers, they rode furi- 
ously while shouting to people on the streets, 
"Hunt your holes ! Hunt your holes ! " And, of 
course, people tried to keep out of their way. 

Hoping to avoid an encounter with them, 
I remained some time in the store; but sup- 
posing they had gone, at last ventured out. 


Sn Camp anti €abin 

Placerville at that time was composed of 
two clusters of houses, with quite a space 
between. Scarcely had I left the shelter of 
the store when here they came over a little 
ridge from the upper town; one on each side- 
walk, flourishing their pistols and howling at 
the top of their voices. 

A large, well-proportioned man walked a 
short distance in advance of me. His clay- 
stained clothing indicated that he was a 
miner; a coat lay on his left arm; attached to 
his belt a large revolver hung at his back; 
and on the seat of his pantaloons was a large 
patch, evidently a piece from a flour sack, as 
it bore the mark Extra Fine. He would first 
meet the reckless rider, and I hesitated to see 
what would be the result. 

Nearer came the man on horseback, still 
flourishing his pistol and shouting, ''Clear 
the track! Clear the track!" A shot from 
the horseman's pistol glanced along the side- 
walk. The miner's hand had been laid upon 
his pistol; now it was instantly drawn and 

The rider threw up his arms; then he made 
an effort to grasp the saddle, but fell heavily 
to the sidewalk; the horse shied into the 
middle of the street and the rider on the op- 
posite side went quietly down to the South 
Fork, a noted gambling headquarters. The 


^pani^ft flat anti €era^ 25ar 

fate of his comrade seemed to have tamed or 
sobered him. 

When I reached the body, the miner stood 
beside his victim; with some emotion he said, 
"I'm powerful sorry I had to do it; but I 
won't be shot nor run over if I can help it." 

Thinking the man might have been 
stunned by the fall, we tried to raise him 
up; but his body was limp and lifeless, the 
blood flowing profusely from a wound in 
his left breast. I don't think he regained 
consciousness. He was a fine looking young 
man. His life might have been of inexpressi- 
ble value to himself, and an honor and bless- 
ing to his friends. Alas, alas, for the use he 
made of it! and then vainly threw it away. 
Surely, **he died as the fool dieth." 

A crowd gathered and the body was car- 
ried away. That the man who slew him did 
it in self-defense was not questioned, and 
the event soon ceased to elicit remark; but 
doubtless he was remembered somewhere. 

Our associations on Texas Bar were very 
pleasant. There were several companies, and 
among them several graduates from eastern 
colleges, two of whom had made the tour of 
Europe and Palestine, while our own mess 
was very congenial. 

Mr. Thomas Finney from McHenry 
County, Illinois, some fifty years of age, 


^Tn Camp anti Cabin 

was an intelligent Christian gentleman. 
Threatened with pulmonary consumption, 
in 1850 he had crossed the plains in search 
of health. He found it before he reached 
California, and two years' residence seemed 
to have given him perfect soundness of body. ^ 
He was a diligent Bible student, respected 
and beloved by all who knew him. 

John Stevenson, some thirty years of age, 
a native of England, but for some years a 
resident of Boone County, Illinois; intelli- 
gent, genial, unselfish; of whom it was said, 
"He never acquired a bad habit." 

John Van Benschoten, a native of Delaware 
County, New York; some twenty years of 
age, rather reticent, with a mind for business 
methods, and of untiring energy. He was 
one of the victims of the New York shipping 
swindle, mentioned in Chapter 5, but was 
fortunate in being able to make the trip from 
Panama to San Francisco by steamer. 

In the mines we all worked alike, but out- 
side of this each sustained his relation to the 
others according to taste or adaptation. For 

^Resort to a plains journey as a cure for consumption 
and other diseases was a well-known practice of the 
second quarter of the nineteenth century. See in this 
connection Josiah Gregg, Commerce of the Prairies^ 
published as the Lakeside Classics volume for 1926, pp. 
xxvi-xxvii and 21-22. 

^pani^f) flat anb Cera^ 25ar 

instance, Mr. Finney was our adviser, the 
Nestor of the camp; his wise counsel and 
sweet spirit exerted an influence for good to 
all on the Bar. Mr. Van Benschoten was 
general business manager; Mr. Stevenson 
was cook, and your humble servant, the 
author, assistant. 

Our habitation was simply some posts 
placed upright in the ground, supporting a 
roof of boughs. It made a good shade and 
as there was no rain in summer we enjoyed 
the outdoor air. A tent was pitched beside 
our booth, but was seldom used. 

At first we were greatly annoyed by fleas 
{pulex irj'itans); they seemed to be every- 
where, but more especially where we fixed 
our bunks and tried to sleep. However, we 
were advised to place our cots on a pile of 
the branches of a kind of black alder, which 
fleas avoid, and in doing so we were much 

In the latter part of August a band of forty 
or fifty Indians camped on the opposite bank 
of the river, spending about two weeks min- 
ing and fishing. Just below Texas Bar the 
stream descended in a narrow, swift channel, 
among large granite boulders. Here, with 
long spears, they caught many fine salmon. 

All these Indians, even the young chil- 
dren, seemed to be expert swimmers. And no 


^Tn Camp anti Cabin 

wonder, for they were compelled to learn 
while scarcely more than infants. Often sev- 
eral mothers would take their small children 
to the top of the rapids, where one after an- 
other would be dropped in, and we could see 
their little black heads in the white foam, 
bobbing around the great boulders in the 
swift current until they reached the eddy 
below, where there were always several ready 
to take them ashore. 

They did not always want to go in, but the 
mother would say, **Shut your mouth," and 
drop them in. It was frightful to see them 
swept down through the deep water. Some- 
times there were indications of strangling, 
but generally when taken out they would 
shout and laugh as though they had not 
only done some great thing but enjoyed it. 

While on Texas Bar I became acquainted 
with Mr. Smith, who then lived at the little 
hamlet of Kelsey, on the bluffs about three 
miles north of our bar. He had been a 
mountaineer and scout; had married a squaw, 
who dying had left him with one child, a girl, 
at that time, 1852, about ten years old. He 
was familiarly known as Peg Leg Smith, and 
had rendered himself famous by having am- 
putated his own leg. 

In a difficulty with some Indians, one fired 
at him, shattering the bone just below his 


^pani^l) flat anb €era^ 25ar 

knee. He knew that without amputation the 
wound would result in death, and as none of 
his companions were willing to undertake 
the operation he resolved to do it himself. 
Preparing bandages as best he could and 
having a fire in which after removing it from 
the stock, he heated the barrel of a horse- 
man's pistol with which to sear the ends of 
small blood vessels; with improvised grip, 
and threads to bind the larger ones; and 
sharpening his knives to a keen edge, with 
his own hands he severed his leg at the knee, 
and with the help of a comrade, who had not 
the nerve to undertake the cutting, bound it 
up in good shape; and years afterward, when 
I knew him, he was able to walk quite ac- 
tively on a wooden leg of his own manu- 

His daughter, lively, intelligent, and shy, 
possessed fine features, and considering her 
Indian blood and habit of going barehead in 
the sun was strangely fair, and might be 
called a pretty brunette. 

About the first of September immigrants 
from across the plains began to arrive at 
Placerville, the direct route for those who 
came by way of Carson's River, and two 
young men from Michigan, Uriah and 

Charles T , brothers, came to Texas Bar 

and began mining, but finding the place 


3^n €amp anti Cabin 

would not pay, removed to another on the 
bar, where they were more successful. 

Two weeks later their cousin, Mr. P. O. 
Soper, arrived from Indiana, and his two 
cousins, taking advantage of the confidence 
naturally arising from kinship, sold him their 
rejected claim. He was just recovering from 
a severe illness, and with more ambition than 
strength, a week's faithful effort not only 
proved the mine worthless, but nearly wore 
him out. 

However, he gave them all the gold he had 
taken out and asked them to cancel the bar- 
gain. This they refused, insisting that the 
contract should stand good, whether he could 
get the amount out of the claim or not, and 
if he would not agree to this he should not 
remain in their camp another night. 

Having paid for all the provisions he had 
used, and learned from others on the bar, 
that, after testing it, they had sold him a 
worthless claim, of course he was willing to 
leave them. 

Saturday, Oct. 2, 1852. The winter rains 
had set in, the river had risen somewhat, 
and my three partners had gone to the up- 
lands to prepare for winter diggings. Having 
pitched my tent, I was working alone on a 
corner of our bar, which still paid fair wages, 
but was liable to be submerged at any time. 


Jjpani^l^ flat anti Cejca^ 25ar 

Rain had fallen all day, and a little before 
dark, going up on the hillside for firewood, I 
met Mr. Soper, and supposing he was on a 
similar errand, in a familiar way suggested 
that while rain was good for green things 
generally, it was doubtful whether it would 
benefit him. 

After some pleasantries, he told me of the 
trouble with his cousins and that he was now 
on his way to a place about five miles beyond 
Placerville, hoping to find a friend with 
whom he had crossed the plains. 

I knew the road; it was difficult in day- 
light, and in the coming darkness and rain 
it seemed impossible, especially for one so 
broken in health, and inviting him to my 
tent, I advised him to wait at least until 
morning. After some hesitation the invitation 
was accepted. 

His work had been too hard; he was pros- 
trated for over a week, but finally recovered 
sufficiently to assist in my work. He was very 
companionable and well educated; English 
was his native tongue, but he read and spoke 
German, and was a very fine singer. We soon 
became attached to each other, and I invited 
him to spend the winter with me at Down- 
ing's Ravine. 

It was November before we left Texas Bar, 
but most of our effects had been removed, 


2Pn Camp and €a6in 

and we waited a few days for our tent to dry, 
so it could be taken with us. The rains, 
however, continued and our mine was 
flooded; at last there appeared a break in 
the clouds, and crossing the river at Chili 
Bar we started for Downing's Ravine. 

Delayed at the ferry, it was late in the 
afternoon when we began the ascent, and 
quite dark when we reached Dutch Creek, 
where, to our dismay we found that the great 
pine chopped across the channel to form, a 
footbridge had been swept away. I remem- 
bered another about a mile farther up, but 
our way lay across a flat perforated with 
mining holes, twenty or thirty feet deep and 
now all nearly full of water, and an approach 
to the soft edge of one of these would be ex- 
ceedingly dangerous. It was a night of 
Egyptian darkness; the clouds had returned, 
rain fell in torrents, and groping our way to 
the trunk of a large pine we took shelter on 
its lee side. 

Our clothes were wet through and our 
matches too damp to kindle a fire; the cold 
constantly increased until the rain changed 
to snow, and in the piercing north wind it 
seemed as though we would perish, but we 
could only sit there and shiver as hour after 
hour passed away. When the dawn enabled 
us to distinguish the shaft's dark mouth from 


^pani^I) flat anti €ejca^ 25ai: 

the white snow we hurried on and in due 
time reached our cabin. But while life lasts 
we will remember that night on Dutch Flat. 

However, my only inconvenience was a 
severe cold, of which a good sweat relieved 
me; but Soper was again prostrated, and it 
was several weeks before he could engage in 
work. For some time I feared he would die, 
and especially regretted that there was no 
physician within reach; but applying such 
remedies as could be obtained, and watching 
with him day and night, with all possible 
care, at last he rallied and came slowly back 
to health. 

When he was able to care for himself dur- 
ing the day, I improved the rains in washing 
gold along the upland gulches; always prof- 
itable when there was plenty of water. 

Returning to the cabin one afternoon, I 
found one of Soper's cousins, who had come 
to demand pay for the v/orthless claim which 
they had sold him. He was inclined to doubt 
Soper's statement that even though willing 
to pay he did not then have the gold. Per- 
haps not aware of his sickness, but supposing 
we had been doing a lucrative business, he 
seemed resolved to compel payment of his 
unjust demand. 

Of course it was no affair of mine and I 
intended to say nothing about it, but after 


3Fn Camp anti Cabin 

considerable abusive language and threats, 
holding his rifle in his left hand, with the 
right he gave Soper a blow on the face. 

Snatching my pistol, and holding it behind 

me, out of his sight, I said, ''Hold on T , 

that will not do here." 

Turning his rifle toward me, and bringing 
his right hand to the lock, ready to raise 
the hammer, he replied, "Do you take it 

The next instant my pistol was cocked, 
and within a short distance of his head. 

"Yes, T , I take it up. I've nothing to 

do with your business matters, but while 
Soper is sick in my cabin no one shall lay 
hands on him if I can help it." 

Retreating a few steps, resting the breech 
of his rifle on the floor, he said, "Mr. Steele 
I have nothing against you. — I've no quarrel 
with you." 

"Nor have I any quarrel with you Mr. 

T , but I do regret that you drew your 

rifle on me and compelled me to get the drop 
on you; it might have been serious," 

Nearly two weeks after this, while work- 
ing alone in a ravine, and stooping, some one 
fired at me; the ball entered near the center 
of the crown of my hat and cutting off a lock 
of my hair passed out at the side, lodging in 
a pile of soft sand and mud. 


^pani^ft flat anti €txa$ 25ar 

Rising up, I saw smoke above a bunch of 
chaparral in the direction from which the 
bullet had come, but could not distinguish 
any person. Whoever fired the shot was evi- 
dently concealed, and made his escape under 
cover of the brushwood. Just over the ridge, 
on the main road, was Wallingford's saloon; 

upon inquiry I was informed that Mr. T 

while out hunting that afternoon had called 
there, perhaps to brace up his courage with 

I found the bullet; it was not bruised but 
unusually large for a rifle, and bore the 
marks of the grooves of the gun. Next an 

acquaintance borrowed the rifle which T 

carried that afternoon, and we found the ball 
was an exact fit. 

Considering that this was the only rifle we 
could find with so large a bore, suspicion 

pointed very directly to Mr. T as the 

man who had tried to take my life; possibly 
because of my friendship for Mr. Soper, or 
possibly he might have known that I had with 
me about five hundred dollars in gold dust. 

But whatever the cause, I can testify that 
it is not pleasant to know there is an enemy 
with a rifle on your track. The more I studied 
the circumstances the more the awful fact 
appeared that their demand on Soper was 
premeditated robbery, and if it seemed to 


5^n Camp anti Cabin 

them necessary to accomplish their purpose, 
they would not hesitate at murder. However, 
Soper's health improved, the winter passed 
quite pleasantly, and we did a fair business 
in mining. 

During the winter an incident occurred 
that so illustrated the general character of 
the miners that I mention it. 

In the fall measles were epidemic, and Mr. 

A from Georgia came near dying with an 

attack; and when Soper had recovered so as 
to walk around, he found him in a neighbor- 
ing cabin with greatly impaired health. He 
was utterly dependent upon his few ac- 
quaintances, and so discouraged, homesick, 
and in despair of ever seeing his family that 
there seemed no hope of his recovery. 

We therefore concluded to bring his case 
before the miners and see what could be 
done for his relief. Preparing a number of 
subscription papers representing his condi- 
tion and soliciting aid, we circulated them 
in the mining camps and were immediately 
joined by others, who appointed a time and 
place for the collectors to meet; and when 
they assembled and presented their papers 
and gold it was discovered that ^1,260 had 
been raised. 

The same evening Mr. A was informed 

of the action of the miners, and that there 


^pani^f) flat anti €era^ 25ar 

was nothing to hinder his going home just as 
soon as he was able. He was quite overcome 
with emotion, and after expressing his grati- 
tude, said, **I think I can start in the morn- 
ing; I feel so much better, it's like coming 
back to life." 

After a few days I went with him to Colo- 
ma, and informed the stage company that 
the miners were sending him home to save 
his life; he was carried free to Sacramento, 
and, on the stage company's recommenda- 
tion, received a free ticket to San Francisco, 
and in due time with improved health joined 
his family. 



THE Indians of the Columbia ranch 
were active miners in their way, using 
only a pan for washing, and as they 
generally worked where the bed rock was 
bare, they dug with their hunting knives in 
the slate. The squaws, always in companies 
of five or six, sometimes used a pick and 
spade, but I never saw an Indian use a 
rocker or long-tom, unless at work with 
whites. Possibly they never had enough gold 
at one time to buy such machinery. 

A party of five squaws worked below us in 
the ravine for several weeks, coming over from 
their village every morning about sunrise 
and returning toward sunset. Two carried 
infants tied to a framework of boughs, and 
while the mothers were at work the babies 
were hung on the swaying branch of a tree. 
Near the place where they worked were a 
number of large bunches of chaparral. One 
day an old woman came and asked in Span- 
ish for matches. Giving her some, she kindled 
a fire in the chaparral, and we noticed that 
some of them spent the greater part of the 


31 l^atibe Cragetip 

day there; but it elicited no particular atten- 
tion until they started for their village, when 
as they passed us we observed that they 
carried an extra baby. Not tied to a frame 
like the others, but in the arms, presumably, 
of its mother. 

Evidently it had been born that day 
among the chaparral; and whether wrapped 
in swaddling clothes we knew not, but there 
was not even a convenient manger in which 
it might be laid. So with an endurance which 
probably only mothers know, it was con- 
veyed more than three miles over the ridge 
to the village in her sheltering arms. 

Early in March, 1853, Mr. Soper discov- 
ered and opened a mine near the head of 
Kelsey Canon, and as the winter rains were 
supposed to be about over he built a sum- 
mer residence, covering it only with the leafy 
boughs of pine and live oak. After occupying 
it he was frequently annoyed at night with a 
rustling among the leaves over his bed. He 
believed it was made by an owl or some 
animal, and on firing his pistol in the direc- 
tion it would immediately leave, but perhaps 
before morning the rustling of the leaves 
would be heard again. The disturber was 
easily frightened, and was never seen or 
heard in the day time; nor could he find any- 
thing like a nest on the roof. Curious to know 


2fn Camp anti €abin 

what it really was, he prepared combustibles, 
and when it was heard quietly flashed them 
into a flame, and in the light was surprised 
and disgusted to see a large snake peering 
through the leaves just above his bed. Of 
course it was not such a companion as one 
would select for his bedroom. 

Some time after, while I was spending a 
night with Soper we heard a noise among the 
leaves and a random shot brought his snake- 
ship down. It was harmless, of the genus 
masticoplis, or coach whip, slender, and about 
six feet long. 

Venomous snakes were seldom found in 
this region; rarely a rattlesnake, but fre- 
quently a colubrine, resembling the milk- 
snake, and which would not hesitate to come 
into your camp or cabin, as the following 
incident illustrates. 

After being away for several days, I re- 
turned to the cabin in company with Mr. 
Jeremiah Dobin. We had left our bunks with 
the blankets spread, it was about midnight, 
and tired and sleepy, we undressed and lay 
down, when Dobin remarked, "How does it 
happen that my blanket is wet?" and then, 
with a scream, sprang from the cot. Lighting 
a candle and examining his bed, we found 
that what he had taken for water was the 
cold coil of a large snake (colubrine) against 


31 l^atibe Cragebp 

his leg, and when it began to wriggle for more 
room, of course he at once surrendered the 
entire bunk. The harmless reptile was killed 
and cast out, and a thorough search satisfied 
us that no others were in the chinks, or about 
the cabin, before we could quietly yield our- 
selves to sleep. 

Some time after Soper had gotten rid of 
his haunting snake, he said to me: ''Don't 
think me superstitious; they say to dream of 
snakes indicates that you have enemies; but 
my snake was no dream; you know I have 
enemies; you heard one of them threaten to 
take my life. I never saw those people until 
we met in California. I thought they were 
friends as well as kindred, but I have found 
them capable of any meanness. We may meet 
sometime, and I have to defend myself. It is 
my prayer that it may never happen; I shall 
avoid them if I can, but should I be com- 
pelled to shed blood, I might want your 
testimony in court. Will you please corre- 
spond with me so that I may know where to 
find you?" 

I had only to refer to the bullet hole in my 
hat, and the many circumstances pointing to 

T , to impress my mind with the thought 

that sometimie I might need Soper's testi- 
mony as much as he could mine. It was 
another case of David and Jonathan. As a 


^n Camp anti Catiin 

consequence we kept trace of each other for 
many years, even while serving in different 
departments of the Union army, and it was 
not until I became an itinerant minister 
among the Mexicans that I lost his address. 

I was now working alone and washing 
gravel, some of which I had thrown up to 
disintegrate and dry more than a year before. 
The water was failing in places, and many of 
the miners had gone to the larger streams. 
However, I was doing well; too busy to be 
lonesome, until I was startled with the story 
that my neighbor, Mr. William Hall, had 
been robbed and murdered in his cabin, 
scarcely a mile from mine. I knew him well; 
a kind, steady, industrious, upright man. He 
crossed the plains from Missouri in the sum- 
mer of 1850, coming into the mines by way 
of Placerville. 

Last fall he sent his gold home by express, 
but he probably had his winter's earnings in 
or about his cabin, and like myself was living 
alone. He was found by two men living at 
some distance, but working near him. Not 
seeing him at work, at noon they went to his 
cabin and found him cold in death. 

Evidently he had been shot in the door of 
his cabin and the body dragged inside, and 
candle drippings indicated that the place had 
been searched in the night. We had no idea 


a l^atibe Cragetip 

who committed the deed. Such things had 
been done near the towns and in places 
visited by Joaquin's band, but this was the 
first in this part of the country, and I no 
longer felt safe to be alone in my cabin. 

As the miners had no safe place of deposit 
they had been accustomed to carry their gold 
with them.; usually in their coat pockets, 
taken with them to their work, and at night 
placed under their heads. In buckskin sacks 
men kept thousands of dollars in gold dust 
with them day and night. 

Thus it came to pass that after a man had 
been a year or two in the mines, if he was 
industrious and temperate, it was supposed 
that he had gold; and if he ventured into 
certain localities alone he was in danger of 
being murdered and robbed. 

I now realized that an attack was liable 
any night, and I arranged my cabin so as to 
be sure that no one could enter without 
waking me; then placing my pistol, butcher 
knife, and axe within convenient reach, all 
things being ready for defense, I lay down to 
sleep. In one respect the danger did me good. 
It led me nearer to God. When reconciled 
through the atonement in Christ, placing all 
in His hands and feeling that whatever hap- 
pened God's love would not forsake me, sleep 
was sweet. 


2Fn Camp and Cabin 

As my cabin was windowless I usually de- 
pended upon the open door for light; and my 
table, against the side of the house, had a 
chink a little above which lighted it quite 

One morning while I was at breakfast a 
little California cat, brown, with dark stripes 
like a coon, crept in, caught a slice of bread 
from the table, and tried to escape through 
the chink, but the slice was too large, and in 
an instant I threw a towel over it, and after 
a fight made it prisoner. 

Nailing some slats across a box for a cage, 
I put it in and fed it some fresh beef, which it 
readily ate. The next morning it ate from my 
hand, seeming quite tame; so nailing my 
blanket over the fireplace, and closing the 
chinks that it might not escape, I let it out 
of the box. After exploring the room, it de- 
voured a bit of meat, and seemed to want 
more; it had no fear of being handled, but 
finally climbed upon my shoulder and began 
to purr as though we were old friends. 

Thinking it was domesticated, I opened 
the door and gave it liberty. It did not leave 
immediately, but came in, took another little 
slice of beef from my hand, and then started 
for the timber. Following it, I found where it 
lived in a hollow tree. It always remembered 
me, and coming often for food would linger 


91 l^atibe Cragebp 

around the cabin, but never permitted me to 
put my hand upon it again. 

About this time Tchubo, the son of Capi- 
tan Juan of the Columbia ranch, came and 
wanted to work for me. He was about sixteen 
years old, stout, and remarkably bright. I 
was glad to have him with me and I felt 
safer, especially at night; and as he did fair 
work I paid him at the rate of five dollars a 

Soon he was neatly dressed, as he said, 
Como un Americano (like an American). Be- 
sides his native Indian, he had considerable 
knowledge of Spanish, and made wonderful 
progress in learning the English language. A 
smooth piece of slate about four feet long and 
three wide, placed on posts driven into the 
earthen floor of my cabin, had served as 
kitchen and dining room table, but now was 
used also as a kind of blackboard in teaching 
Tchubo to read and write. 

He had learned that Juan, his father's 
name in Spanish, was the same as mine, John 
in English, and so he wanted me to tell him 
what his name was in English. This puzzled 
me, but I finally said, "Thomas, or it might 
be only Tom." 

This pleased him, and he repeated, "Juan, 
John, Tom," and insisted on being called by 
the English name, Tom. 


^Fn €amp anti Cabin 

When not at work, he usually employed 
his time in making letters and pronouncing 
them in English, and by the constant repeti- 
tion of words, phrases, numbers, and sen- 
tences he became quite proficient in the 
English language. 

His father often visited us and seemed 
much pleased that his son could talk English 
and was learning to read and write. I became 
greatly interested in Tom. His older brother 
had been killed in battle with the Placerville 
Indians, and I thought when he took his 
father's place as chief he would introduce 
educational methods, and perhaps through 
Christianity save his people. 

Another thing, they were not beggars, but 
did considerable mining, and expected to pay 
for what they receiv^ed. One day, leaving 
Tom at work, I went to the cabin to prepare 
dinner, and was surprised to find several 
Indians there. They had found my tin box 
containing about fifty dollars in gold dust, 
and had poured it on the table to look at it. 
When they saw that I wanted to use the 
table, one swept the gold into the box, saying 
as he did so, " Todo hay'' (all there). Curious 
to know whether any had been taken, for it 
was a great temptation, when they were gone 
I weighed it and found it, sure enough, "all 


a l^atitae Cragetip 

To me these Indians were not only friendly, 
but, as far as I knew, truthful and honest, and 
I felt perfectly safe in person and property 
to the extent of their ability to protect me. 

Tom usually spent Sunday at home, re- 
turning either in the afternoon or early Mon- 
day morning. If for any reason he wanted 
to remain away a few days he always let 
me know in advance; and so when he failed 
to appear one Monday morning I felt some- 
what anxious; but towards noon he came 
from the direction of Wallingford's saloon, 
his unsteady step revealing the fact that he 
was drunk. 

He wanted to dig, but was utterly unable, 
and at last I coaxed him to go with me to the 
cabin, where he lay down and slept until near 
supper time. Awaking and coming where I 
was at work, he complained, *' Tom muy 
enfermo'' (very sick) "sick, heap sick." 

'*Yes," said I, "Tom you've been drunk, 
muy borracho (very drunk), what did you 

* * Aguardiente' * (brandy) . 

"Who gave it to you?" 


I remarked: "It will make anybody sick, 
make them do what they don't want to, and 
make them so they don't know what they do. 
You Tom, never drink ^.nymovQ aguardiente.'* 


5Pn Camp anti CaBin 

"Never any more, never!" said he with 
emphasis, and placing his hand upon his 
stomach and soon turning away he vomited 
freely. Coming to the cabin and sipping a 
little coffee, he was finally able to take some 
supper. He said he had never tasted aguar- 
diente before, and did not know it would 
make him sick. From talking with his father, 
as well as from his own statement, I do not 
think Tom had ever before tasted spirituous 

One morning, a week after this, I sent him 
with a note, as I had often done, to Mr. 
Cooledge of Peru for groceries. It was after- 
noon when he returned, drunk and without 
the groceries. When questioned, he said they 
were at Wallingford's. 

As soon as he became quiet I visited Wall- 
ingford's. They told me that he had stopped 
there on his way from Peru and had engaged 
in gambling, drinking freely of whiskey, and 
finally left without taking his package, and 
had probably forgotten it. Explaining the 
matter, I begged of them as a favor to me as 
well as to him not to let him have liquor of 
any kind. 

The next morning I questioned him as to 
drinking aguardiente again, and he promptly 
replied, with perfect candor, ''No^ no he 
bebido aguardiente^ bebi whiskey'^ (no, I did 


a l^atibe Ctagetip 

not drink brandy, I drank whiskey). This 
accorded with Wallingford's statement, and 
I could not resist the impression that Tom 
had been deceived in the name, and doubt- 
less would have refused brandy. 

It reminded me of the proverb: ''Wine is a 
mocker, strong drink is raging, and whosoever 
is deceived thereby is not wise." And I was 
aware that many young men with greater 
advantages than Tom had been deceived 
thereby. I tried to explain that whiskey made 
him drunk the same as brandy, and that 
rum, gin, ale, and wine were just as bad. 
Still, I entertained the hope that Walling- 
ford was manly enough to refuse him liquor. 

Next questioning him about his money, 
taking the empty purse from his pocket, he 
replied, "All gone." 

"Who got your money?" 

''No se (I don't know), one man at 
Wallingford's." Of course, that was all they 
wanted of Tom, and I suppose he gambled 
it away. 

The next Saturday afternoon Capitan 
Juan made us a visit. After supper I paid 
Tom his earnings, ^15, and saying he would 
return Monday morning they started for 
home. Knowing that Capitan Juan never 
drank, I was glad they were together, feeling 
that his son was safe with him. 


5Fn Camp anD CaBin 

Late Sunday afternoon Tom returned; 
there was blood on his clothes and hands, 
and he was greatly excited, but too drunk to 
tell just what had happened. Flourishing his 
hunting knife, he tried to show me how some- 
body had been killed, but who it was or who 
did it I could not make out, but I began to 
regret having anything to do with him. At 
last he fell into a deep slumber, and did not 
wake until morning. Then, questioning him 
about the blood, he seemed to remember all 
that had occurred from the time he and his 
father had left my cabin until his return. 

On the way to Peru for provisions, passing 
Wallingford's saloon, he came out and in- 
vited them in; Capitan Juan refused to enter, 
and then Wallingford gave Tom a small bot- 
tle of some kind of liquor. His father took it, 
smelled of it, and at once dashed it in pieces 
against a rock. 

The next day Tom and two other Indians 
came back to the saloon, engaged in gam- 
bling, and all drank freely of what Tom 
called ''vino " (wine) ; and when all their gold 
was gone, started for the village. The two 
Indians quarreled, one stabbing the other 
with a knife. Tom tried to help the wounded 
Indian home, but he died on the way. And 
then Tom, afraid of his father's anger, should 
he appear before him drunk, came to me. 


a l^atibe Cragetip 

Afterward I learned that the one who com- 
mitted the deed told of it in the village, and 
the friends went out, brought in the body, 
and prepared for the funeral. 

Now the fact dawned upon my mind that 
in paying Tom wages and teaching him 
English, instead of helping him, as I had 
fondly hoped, I had put him into the hands 
of the worst kind of savages. While he had no 
money he was comparatively safe from the 
saloon keeper, but when they saw him well 
dressed, and he understood enough English 
to tell them in answer to their questions that 
he had earned the money, paid for his clothes, 
and had money left, all the wisdom "of that 
old serpent the devil," was invoked to com- 
pass his ruin. Not that they had anything 
against him; they simply wanted his money, 
and gladly descended to the lowest depths 
of merciless meanness in order to get it. 

With Tom I attended the funeral of the 
murdered man. Entering the village, we 
passed a man sitting alone at the door of a 

"That's the man," said Tom. "He killed 
him, and m.ust die." 

"Why don't he go away?" I inquired. 

"Because if they not find him, they take 
his father, his brother, his son; somebody die 
— you see." 


2fn Camp anti €abm 

Afterward, upon inquiry, I found that this 
was a kind of common law among these 
Indians. When murder was committed, the 
murderer must be put to death. If he ran 
away, the nearest of his male kindred whom 
they could find must die in his stead within 
a year. But Capitan Juan said he never knew 
a case where an innocent person was executed 
for his kindred's crime.^ 

The funeral was inexpressibly sad; every 
countenance and voice indicated genuine 
sorrov/. The body was burned with the usual 
ceremonies, and after they were concluded 
twelve warriors with bows and arrows slung 
over the left shoulder, and each with a long 
flint-pointed spear in the right hand, in 
charge of two officers, came suddenly upon 
the scene. Marching with them, unbound, 
was the man who had killed his companion. 
Passing to the front of the chief's wigwam, 
they halted, and their prisoner was seated 
on the ground. Capitan Juan came out and 
after talking awhile in Indian also sat down. 

Then followed something like a trial, con- 
ducted by one of the officers. Tom was called 

^The custom here described was widespread among 
the Indian tribes of North America. A vivid account of 
an Indian execution in Michigan is given in The Auto- 
biography of Gurdon S. Hubbard, the Lakeside Classics 
volume for 191 1, pp. 67-72. 


and questioned; others came forward and 
spoke. It seemed as though the entire village, 
with a number of whites, were present. The 
guards kept a large space open so that the 
chief, officers, prisoner, and witnesses could 
be seen. 

Again the chief arose, and with great ear- 
nestness and solemnity spoke at length. The 
Indians were deeply affected by his talk; and 
how I did regret that I did not understand 
it. When the speech was ended, two men 
approached with cords of some kind of bark 
and bound the prisoner's hands together 
at the wrists; another cord around the 
elbows was tied across the back, and the 
limbs were bound firmly together at the 
ankles and knees. He made no resistance, 
and I am not aware that he spoke during 
the operation. 

Then a blanket was thrown over his head, 
and a cord placed below his knees and over 
the back of his neck, drawing his head and 
knees together, and so, with the blanket 
bound closely around him, he was carried 
outside the village, where a funeral pile of 
dry wood had been built and already fired, 
and he was laid thereon. 

Sick at heart I turned away from the aw- 
ful scene, realizing, as I did not before, why 
the deep sadness everywhere seen and heard, 


5^11 Camp anti CaBin 

but also convinced that the untutored In- 
dian, who, in the delirium of intoxication, 
slew his friend and met his cruel fate, was less 
guilty than the "civilized" white man, who, 
knowing the probable consequences, yet to 
obtain the paltry half ounce of gold fur- 
nished the liquor and tempted him to drink. 

By questioning Tom, I obtained an idea of 
his father's address. He reminded the In- 
dians that these two men were good men, 
brave warriors; they had families who loved 
them, everybody respected them. They were 
friends; friends always like brothers; would 
always have been so, only for the white man's 
drink. It makes people bad. If white men 
drink it, it makes them bad; if you drink it, 
it will make you bad; if I (Juan) drink it, it 
will make me bad. It is bad, always bad, 
very bad. 

"Tom," said I, "do you think your father 
is right?" 

"Yes," said he, "white man's drink al- 
ways bad; it makes me bad when I have it 
and don't drink it." 

"How is that, Tom?" 

"When my father took the bottle and 
broke it, I was muy enojado (very angry) at 
my father, and come back next day to get 
more; I ask them to come; now both dead; 
Tom bad." 


a l^atibe €ragclip 

Doubtless Tom's philosophy was correct, 
and there was encouragement in his candor 
and self-accusation; and I fondly hoped he 
might become as bitterly opposed to the use of 
strong drink as his father. But alas for Tom; 
he had already acquired that unquenchable 
thirst, and there were those who, in its most 
seductive form, put the temptation in his way. 

It was not long until Tom was drunk again. 
Determined if possible to save him, and 
knowing it was contrary to law to give an 
Indian liquor and that the Indian affairs 
were in the hands of the War Department, 
I addressed a letter to General Hotchkiss, 
then in command of the Pacific Department 
of the army. I promptly received a reply, 
with necessary instructions and blanks for 
making out a complaint against any one sell- 
ing or giving intoxicating liquors to Indians. 
But now unexpected difficulties arose; no 
Indian's testimony could be accepted, and 
no white man who knew the facts was willing 
to testify. 

Again I appealed to Wallingford, urging 
that to whomsoever he sold liquor, let none 
be given to Tom. He had probably been in- 
formed of my effort to invoke the law, and 
replied with a volley of profane and insulting 
epithets, and ended by saying, "I under- 
stand you are trying to make trouble; better 


S^n Camp anti €abm 

let it drop. You attend to your little busi- 
ness, and we'll attend to ours; and, mark my 
words, if you interfere with our affairs, you'll 
be delivered up to your God." 

After this Tom became worse; whatever 
he earned went for liquor. Losing his former 
self-respect, he worked but little, and would 
beg for money to buy liquor; and to the grief 
of his father, spent his time among the 
saloons. Other members of the tribe became 
equally debauched, until it seemed as though 
it would have been far better had they all 
perished with smallpox. And I believe that 
the sad fate of Columbia Ranch overtook 
every Indian village in the California mines. 


Ci^aptet; lo 


SUNDAY, May i, 1853. Yesterday 
afternoon Tom went home and I 
visited the post office at Coloma. Mail 
from the last steamer had just been dis- 
tributed, and as the news spread, as usual, 
people flocked in from all sides. 

Some were made glad with good news from 
home; others, anxious because the expected 
letters had not come, usually tried, after the 
style of an auctioneer, to buy a paper con- 
taining the general news from their part of 
the country. It was common at such times 
to hear the exclamation, "Who has a paper 
for sale from New York?" or from such 
and such places; and people receiving pa- 
pers, after their perusal, sometimes sold them 
for fifty cents or one dollar. Some, receiv- 
ing bad news, went sorrowfully aside to 

A little below the post office, in the shade 
of some pines, people often retired to read 
their letters and papers. Paying a dollar for 
a copy of the New York Weekly Tribune ^ I 
went thither and sat down to read. 


3^n Camp anU Cabin 

Soon a fine looking man stood up and with 
a voice of wonderful power and compass, 
sang the hymn beginning, 

"O for a closer wdk with God." 

People were attracted, and gathered as 
silent, attentive listeners. Then, by invita- 
tion, a number joined with him in singing, 

"Jesus lover of my soul." 

The effect was inspiring; and there kneel- 
ing down he offered a prayer which made me 
feel that God was not only present, but con- 
sidering our individual interests. Next, 
drawing a Bible from his pocket, he read the 
fifty-fifth chapter of Isaiah, with a few verses 
from the third chapter of John, and preached 
from the words of Isaiah, **Seek ye the Lord 
while he may be found, call ye upon him 
while he is near." 

I was very much impressed with the ser- 
mon, and glad to learn that he would preach 
at ten the next forenoon near Downing's 

Some interested men took sluice lumber, 
as yet unused, and prepared very comforta- 
ble seats in the shade of a great live oak, and 
at the appointed time a large congregation 
had assembled. Of course there were no 
women or children. 


S^ntiian ^Bobernment anti Cu^tom^ 

Several old hymns were sung, reminding 
us of home, its associations and worship. 
Several earnest prayers were offered, and 
then the minister preached a clear, earnest, 
and impressive sermon from the one hundred 
and sixteenth Psalm. Many were moved to 
tears; and in closing he announced an ap- 
pointment to preach at five that afternoon in 
Coloma, but if they would remain, he would 
hold another service immediately after din- 
ner in this place. All seemed desirous for this, 
and as my cabin was near he accepted an 
invitation to dinner. 

We were gone about an hour and a half, 
and returning, came over a low ridge among 
clumps of chaparral, which concealed us un- 
til we were within a few rods of the seats, 
when, looking down upon them, a scene 
utterly unexpected met our view. Not all, 
but a large part of the congregation, divided 
into groups of twos, fours, perhaps eights, 
the members of each group facing each other 
and using the seats for tables, were busily 
engaged in playing cards. I don't know 
whether there was any money at stake, but 
just as soon as the minister was seen to be 
present the cards were quietly pocketed, and 
all assumed the attitude of serious attention. 

Never before or since have I seen or heard 
of a congregation, while on the Sabbath 


^Tn €amp anb Cabin 

waiting for the minister, engage in such a 
pastime, and I have always believed, had 
there been women and children present, the 
exercises would have taken a more intelligent 
and spiritual trend. 

After another earnest discourse on John, 
twenty-first chapter and twenty-second 
verse, the words of Jesus to Peter, "What is 
that to thee? follow thou me"; and a fervent 
prayer, he went his way. Perhaps he was dis- 
appointed; he may have felt that his words 
were lost in the echoless air, but I am sure 
many were helped by being led back to the 
home life and associations, by seeing the true 
life in Christ, and made to realize personal 
responsibility, by being brought face to face 
with God. 

If I learned that minister's name, unfortu- 
nately it was not written in my journal and 
has been forgotten, but I have thought he 
might have been William Taylor, afterward 
the world-wide missionary and Bishop of 

Monday, May 9, 1853. As the dry season 
advanced and water began to fail on the 
uplands, closing my mining operations at 
Downing's Ravine, with James Badgely, 
John Berry, Levi and George Chapman, 
brothers, and George Ward, all recently from 
the Georgia gold mines, I started for Antoine 


Canon, far into the mountains between the 
North and Middle forks of the American 

With provisions, blankets, and mining 
tools, we also carried a tent, eight by ten feet 
in size, and lest the snow might be too deep 
on the mountains for mules, also saving ex- 
pense, we went on foot. It was our intention 
to make a reconnoissance, as a soldier would 
say, and if circumstances were promising to 
occupy the place and devote the summer to 

The snow was deep and quite hard on the 
ridges, but on descending into the canon 
on the evening of May 1 1 we found that it 
had mostly melted away. We pitched our 
tent and the next morning made an ex- 
ploration of the place. A number of houses 
had been built here last summer, all being 
vacated in the fall, and every roof had been 
broken in with the weight of the winter's 
snow. The water was too deep for success- 
ful mining. 

About noon a heavy rain set in and we 
took shelter in the tent, which was very com- 
fortable until toward night when the rain 
turned to snow, which accumulated so fast 
that the tent was soon in danger of collapse. 
At intervals by shoveling off the snow we 
relieved it of the heavy strain; but the snow 


2Fn Camp anli Cabin 

continued all night and most of the next day, 
when the air became decidedly colder. 

Snow in the canon had fallen to the depth 
of about four feet, and of course we could not 
hope to begin mining within a month; so 
wading or rather wallowing out, we came 
down to the Middle Fork of the American 
River. On our way we stopped awhile at a 
mining camp known as Yankee Jim's. Here 
I found Professor Hamilton, of an eastern 
college, with whom I first became acquainted 
in Onion Valley, and he related the following 
terribly tragic incident, which had occurred 
a few weeks before. 

The reader will remember Doctor Y , 

mentioned in Chapter 4, among those who 
were snowbound in Onion Valley in the winter 
of 1850 and 1851. Graduated at West Point, 
he held the position of surgeon in the United 
States army and served through the Mexican 
War, but owing to his intemperate habits, 
after the battles around the city of Mexico 
he was returned to New Orleans and dis- 
charged for drunkenness while on duty. 

Ashamed to go to his wife, who lived in 
Kentucky, he ceased correspondence with her 
and drifted to California. In some way she 
learned where he had gone and why he had 
lost his position in the army. Knowing his 
proud spirit, she suspected the reason of his 


3^iU!ian oBobernment anD Cu^tom^ 

silence and absence, and with woman's love, 
constancy, and devotion, resolved to save 
him if possible. 

After addressing letters to him telling of 
her intention, she went to Sacramento, where 
he joined her, established a home, and prac- 
ticed his profession over a year. But falling 
again into his old habits, doubtless to get 
him away from his associates, she persuaded 
him to go out into the mountains; and so 
they came to Yankee Jim's, where, being a 
skilled physician and surgeon, and the only 
one in that region, he entered upon a lucra- 
tive practice. 

For some time they were prosperous and 
happy, but again his old enemy overtook 
him. His wife, an excellent Christian woman, 
with their little son about a year old, ap- 
pealed to his better nature, and for a time 
sustained his nobler manhood in the des- 
perate struggle to assert itself. But while he 
had money, men who knew his weakness 
plied their temptations beyond his power to 

Gambling was added to drunkenness, his 
earnings were soon gone, and he was reduced 
to want. His wife was neglected, sometimes 
abused. God only knew the burden of that 
devoted heart; away from congenial society, 
all her efforts vain, every cherished hope 


5Fn Camp anh €abm 

dying out; but she never gave him up, nor 
faltered in her efforts to save him. 

One night, becoming troublesome, he was 
ejected from a saloon. Maddened and in a fit 
of delirium, he came home, took his gun, and 
threatened to shoot his wife. By accident he 
overturned the candle and put it out. In an 
effort to escape she ran to the door; opening it, 
the moonlight revealed her form and he 
fired, killing her instantly. 

The miners, having great respect for her, 
incensed at his awful deed, at once hung him 
to a tree, and probably not until the tragedy 
was complete did they realize the presence 
of the orphan child. The little boy, scarcely 
a year old, was afraid of everybody except 
Robert Neal, a boy about sixteen years of 
age, who, employed by the doctor, had come 
from Sacramento with him and his wife and 
was present in the house when she was killed. 

Poor Robert, left with such a responsi- 
bility on his hands and not a woman any- 
where in that section of country to whom he 
could go for advice or help, was quite over- 

Fortunately the child was greatly attached 
to him and he knew how to prepare some 
kinds of food for it; but of course it missed 
its mother, and again and again cried itself 
to sleep. 


3^ntitan aBobernment anti Cu^tom^ 

Professor Hamilton kindly assisted Robert 
and the baby all he could, remaining with 
them in the house. He said the next night 
after the mother's death the baby was rest- 
less, cried frequently, and Robert carried it 
in his arms nearly all night. At daylight 
the place became quiet and his step was no 
longer heard, so the Professor peered into 
the room; there they lay in sound slumber, 
Robert holding the baby tenderly in his 
arms, and both faces showing traces of 
tears, as though they had cried themselves 

Robert proposed taking the child to a 
family living near Sacramento, acquaint- 
ances, perhaps relatives of his. The miners 
helped him to arrange for the journey; so 
taking the doctor's horse and safely carrying 
his precious charge, he made the trip to the 
valley, and there in the family it found a 
home, protection, and care never realized 
anywhere else. But Robert Neal had become 
so attached to the little orphan that he con- 
cluded to remain near him, and wrote Pro- 
fessor Hamilton that he had found employ- 
ment on a neighboring ranch. 

Returning to Downing's Ravine, I re- 
ceived a very cordial visit from Capitan 
Juan and his son Tom, who informed me 
that representatives from eight Pah Ute 


^Tn Camp anti Ca6m 

villages would soon meet with theirs in coun- 
cil, and invited me to be present. 

Of course, like most boys, I was more or 
less ambitious; but to succeed to the dignity 
of a seat in a council of Indian chiefs was 
something which neither my age nor ambi- 
tion, up to that time, had ever suggested. 
However, I made a special effort to be 

The place selected, about two miles north- 
west of the Columbia village, was prepared 
by placing a row of small poles firmly in the 
ground, inclosing a circle about six rods in 
diameter. Into these were closely woven rods 
of chaparral to the height of over eight feet. 
In the center was built the council fire, around 
which the chiefs smoked and deliberated. 

Two entrances, one east, the other west, 
were so arranged by the braided walls over- 
lapping, with a space of about three feet be- 
tween, that at a short distance the passage 
was not visible, and a person might walk 
entirely around the corral and see no open- 
ing. Near the west entrance were fires, and a 
number of squaws engaged in cooking for the 
feast. They had cone-shaped baskets made 
of split wood fiber woven very firmly to- 
gether and gummed with some kind of 
resinous substance, so that they not only 
held water, but water could be boiled in them. 


^Pntiian aBobernmcnt anti Cu^tom^ 

This was effected by placing the baskets 
in pairs, the points in the ground so as to 
keep them steady. Water was poured into 
each; if they wanted to boil meat, it was put 
into one, and a hot stone, taken from the fire 
with a green branch bent like a pair of tongs, 
and nicely rinsed in the other, was dropped 
in with the meat. When it cooled it was 
taken out and another hot one put in, and in 
this way the water was kept boiling until the 
meat was cooked. 

Usually one basket of water sufficed as a 
rinsing place for the hot stones, which kept 
many others boiling. So also they cooked a 
kind of paste, made of flour and water. 

I noticed, however, that many brought 
their provisions with them. Some had large 
cakes made of acorns ground quite fine, after 
removing the shells, then mixed with grass- 
hoppers and baked on a hot stone. Another 
article of diet was wild clover (alfalfa) 
ground very fine while green and baked. 

They also used a brittle vine, in taste re- 
sembling lettuce; but, especially in the spring, 
their principal food was a bulb of pleasant 
taste, about the size of a plum, growing just 
below the surface of the ground, the place 
indicated by its fringe-like stem, only a few 
inches in height. Often bands of Indians 
were seen traversing the slopes, each with a 


3^n €amp anti Caliin 

pointed stick, digging and eating these bulbs. 
Doubtless from this practice they obtained 
the name "Diggers." 

On the eastern side of the council house a 
large space was smoothed off and used for 
their drill or war dance, which continued day 
and night for eight days. I was told that there 
were about 800 warriors present, though I 
think only about 100 drilled or danced at the 
same time. 

They began by forming concentric circles 
around the leader, each one holding a spear 
or long stick in his right hand; facing inward, 
they followed his motions, raising their 
spears perpendicularly and bringing the 
handle with a thump on the ground, mean- 
while singing in unison, '' Hah^ hi-yah; hah^ 
hi-yah; hah, hi-yah'' ; and at a sign from the 
leader they would all face outward, still 
keeping up the motion and the song. Then 
facing right or left they would march in 
circles; and at another signal the circles 
would be formed into squares, and all facing 
in the same direction, would march to an- 
other place near by. When one set became 
tired another took its place, and thus the 
performance was kept up. 

A rather interesting game was played by 
two parties, each numbering about twenty. 
An open valley was selected and two trees, 


^Tntiian ^obcntment anti Cu^tom^ef 

generally about forty rods apart, were desig- 
nated as belonging one to either side. The 
persons in the play, each with a stick about 
four feet long, met midway between the 
trees. A belt about four inches wide and 
three feet long, made with strips of buckskin, 
cloth, or bark neatly braided, was thrown 
high into the air. After this no one must 
touch it with his hand until it had come in 
contact with one of the designated trees. It 
was tossed on the sticks, and the party 
bringing it first to their tree were winners. 

It was a very exciting game and occasion- 
ally the belt would be tossed several times 
around both trees before touching either. Of 
course in the wild rush some would be hurt, 
but I never saw any indications of anger 
among them. On the contrary they would 
laugh and shout, and though suffering in- 
tense pain, were generally successful in 
avoiding any outward evidence of it. 

At this meeting the leading members of 
the various villages became acquainted and 
difficulties and misunderstandings were de- 
fined, brought before the council, and, if 
possible, settled to the satisfaction of all. In 
this manner peace was concluded between 
the Placerville and Columbia villages, and 
when finally they separated there seemed to 
be universal friendship and good will. 

Among other things they discussed the 
liquor problem, and were greatly surprised 
when I told them that the government made 
laws to protect them and would punish any- 
one known to give or sell liquor to them ; some- 
thing it did not do even for its own people. 

It is a fact which needs to be emphasized 
that the government of the United States 
enacted laws for the protection of the In- 
dians which were just and humane, and it 
has been in direct violation of these laws 
that the Indians were defrauded, debauched, 
and often murdered. Those who engaged in 
this work of outrage were not always citizens 
of the United States; and though sometimes 
Christian in name were not so in fact, but 
were too low, morally, to hold membership 
in any Protestant church. 

Under our constitution and laws people 
enjoy greater liberty than in any other coun- 
try. Like the mercy of God, who sendeth the 
rain and sunshine upon the just and unjust, 
so personal liberty is given whether the 
recipient is worthy or not. And it is those 
who pervert the liberty of which they are 
not worthy that have brought destruction 
upon the Indians and disgrace upon the gov- 
ernment and people of the United States. 

Odium still clings to New England because 
many years ago witches were hung there; 


S^ntiian <lBDbcrnment anti CujBftom^ 

and yet no witch was ever hung in accor- 
dance with any law made in America; and 
so it may be said no Indian was ever cor- 
rupted according to any law of the United 
States. Our disgrace in this matter has been 
through the recognition of foreign customs 
and laws, and a criminal disregard of our 

Most of the miners had gone to the low- 
lands and rivers, and I was afraid that when 
so many Indians assembled they might ob- 
tain liquor, become Intoxicated, and not only 
fight among themselves, but provoke a war 
of extermination by an attack upon the 
whites. However, during the entire eight 
days I did not see an intoxicated Indian. 

Perhaps those who sold liquor had a whole- 
some dread of drunken Indians; and the 
Indians themselves exercised a restrain- 
ing influence upon each other. While there 
were doubtless many, who, had they been 
tempted, would have drunk to excess, yet 
the common sentiment was against the use 
of strong drink. And it is to be regretted that 
there are so many cities and villages in the 
United States where today the temperance 
sentiment is lower than among those Indians 
at that time. Even in the council were chiefs 
whose bloated faces and bloodshot eyes indi- 
cated that they were victims of drunkenness, 


2Fn €amp anti €abrxi 

but without a dissenting voice the white 
man's drink was condemned. Not even ap- 
petite, profit, companionship, party, or 
prejudice had taught them to prevaricate, 
but with perfect candor they innocently told 
the truth. 

While the deliberations of the council were 
in the Indian tongue, they all possessed some 
knowledge of Spanish and took special pains 
to have all matters interpreted for my bene- 
fit. And conversing freely with Tom, who, 
as the chiefs son and prospective heir, was 
present at all the sessions, I obtained an 
inside view of their political, social, and 
religious life. 

The villages were generally organized by 
the election, common recognition, or selec- 
tion by the chief of four officers. 

1st. Captain of the Warriors; whose duty 
was to organize and drill the men as soldiers; 
and, under direction of the chief, lead them 
in time of war. 

2nd. Captain of the Boys; teaching them 
to make bows and arrows, to hunt, fish, 
endure fatigue, practice proper self-restraint 
and etiquette. The boys were generally under 
severe discipline until old enough, or rather 
big enough, to be recognized as warriors. 

3rd. Superintendent of Works; having 
charge of industries, such as gardening, 


S^ntiian ^Bobemment and Cu^toitiie? 

collecting and distributing supplies, and in- 
volved the temporal prosperity of the village. 

4th. Master of Ceremonies. A kind of priest 
and civil judge, before whom marriages were 
recognized; difficulties brought for adjust- 
ment, except high crimes or appeals, which 
came before the chief; and by whom funeral 
ceremonies were conducted. 

These four, with the chief, formed a coun- 
cil of state, and were in fact the government. 
All their services were rendered gratuitously, 
and as for gaining a livelihood they seemed 
to have no advantage over the rest. 

I noticed that difficulties between villages 
had been brought about not by any general 
difference of opinion as to boundaries, etc., 
but by individual misdoing, shielded by the 
personal friends of the culprit; which acts, 
when pointed out, were recognized as wrong, 
but in no case was there any demand for the 
punishment of the criminal. 

It appeared that the recent war between 
the Placerville and Columbia villages had 
originated in a quarrel between two boys, 
one from each village, both equally wrong, 
but supported by their friends. 

In social life polygamy, though unpopular, 
was allowed, but it did not appear that any 
member of the council had more than one 
wife. There seemed to be a decided sentiment 


^Tn Camp anti Cabin 

that men and women must be morally above 
reproach. Perhaps it was because of this that 
the squaws were associated in bands, and 
rarely, if ever, seen alone. 

All were devoutly religious; or perhaps it 
were better to say superstitious. Some could 
recite in Spanish parts of the litany of the 
Roman Catholic Church, were decorated 
with crosses, carried beads and resarios; but 
their ideas of God were not different from 
others who were veritable heathen. They 
imagined that each village had its individual 
god, or at least the Indians and whites had 
different gods; and while possessing wonder- 
ful power, the Indians evidently were not 
sure that any of them were good. They might 
be propitiated, but might also be very un- 
reasonable and cruel. 

They certainly feared their gods. Sur- 
rounded by superstitious dread of the unreal, 
they were ignorant of the real. Trembling 
before imaginary gods; ignorant of the God 
of love, their sad lives were made sadder by 
contact with corrupt men, who by their vices 
led the masses to terrible and hopeless ruin. 
Yet in the Indian mind these men were 
associated with the name and religion of 
Christ, which greatly perplexed the more 
intelligent and pure natives. 


Ci^apter 1 1 


SATURDAY, June i8, 1853. I visited 
the post office at Coloma. Many of 
my most intimate acquaintances had 
either left California or I had lost their ad- 
dress, and a lonely feeling came over me; 
and a desire to renew my studies turned my 
thoughts toward home. 

Letters from Wisconsin, especially one 
from brother Edward D., a student at the 
University of Wisconsin, stating that during 
vacation he expected to visit our old home 
in New York and urging me, if possible, 
to meet him there, confirmed my desire to 
return at once. 

In a few days my affairs were arranged for 
the homeward journey. Meeting with Capi- 
tan Juan I told him that I was going to New 

"" iCuando quiere volverf (W^hen will you 

''No se^ quisa nunca" (Don't know; per- 
haps never). 

'' iDonde esta Tchuboy su hi jo de V,V 
(Where is Tom, your son?). 

^n €amp anti CaBin 

He replied, " i^uien sabe? " (Who knows ?) • 
Then he told me that Tom had been drink- 
ing, and was having trouble. 

I expressed regret, hoped he might reform, 
and closed by saying, '' Vuestro merced'' 
(your excellency), a title of respect with 
which I always addressed him, "knows that 
I would be glad to help him reform if I 

"Yes," he replied, "I respect you, every 
one in the village respects you; you have 
been a brother to Tchubo (Tom) and he loves 
you as his best friend and brother; but," he 
added with deep emotion, "nobody can help 
him, — jMi pobre hijo perdido! jmi pobre hijo 
perdidoV (My poor lost son! my poor lost 

Our parting was very sad, and as I bade 
him Adios^ he gave me an affectionate em- 
brace, and placing his hands upon my head 
solemnly said, '' Dios te guarde por todos los 
cominos de Vy (God keep you in all your 

I was much impressed, and wanted to find 
Tom; at our last interview he had said he 
did not intend to drink any more, and I 
wanted to have one more talk with him on 
the subject, so that when he thought of me 
he would always remember my desire for his 


iHetunt to Wi^tou^in 

While crossing the plains in 1850, at the 
camp of the mountaineer, Jim Baker, I 
bought a suit of Indian made buckskin. The 
frock coat, neatly belted and heavily fringed, 
I had kept as a souvenir, but just before the 
council, Tom's clothes being somewhat 
shabby, I gave it to him. It was a good fit, 
and being of Indian work was more appro- 
priate than any other style of dress. He v/as 
greatly pleased with it, and he having pleas- 
ant features and fine form, it was much 

In my search for Tom I saw several bands 
of Indians, but not seeing his coat passed 
them at a distance. At last near Peru, meet- 
ing an Indian I inquired in Spanish, "Have 
you seen the Chief's son.?" He replied, point- 
ing in the direction, "Yes, he is down there 
by the road." 

Going to the place, I found him reclining 
against a fallen tree in a drunken stupor. 
His buckskin coat and flannel shirt were 
gone, and even his pantaloons had been ex- 
changed for a torn and ragged pair. Evidently 
"he had fallen among thieves," who had 
stripped him of his raiment, etc. 

As I looked into his bloated, besotted face, 
and remembered what he had been, his 
bright mind, noble ambition, studious habits, 
and untiring energy before the demon alcohol 


3n Camp anti Cabin 

had done its work, his despairing father's 
words seemed to ring again in my ears, "M/ 
pobre hijo perdidd" (My poor lost son). 
Tears filled my eyes as I lingered beside him, 
deplored his ruin, and found it inexpressibly 
hard to give him up. 

Does anyone say. He was only an Indian; 
yet there were infinite possibilities bound 
up in his life. And although thousands in 
all ages have met a similar fate, still sorrow 
over one is none the less bitter on that ac- 

Without trying to awaken him, with a 
silent good-bye I turned away and never saw 
him again. What became of him I know not; 
most probably he died a drunkard. However 
that may be, doubtless in the day of judg- 
ment it will be more tolerable for him than 
for those who lured him to ruin. 

Greatly depressed, I returned to my cabin 
and about dark was cheered by the presence 
of Mr. Soper, who spent the night with me, 
and together the next morning we went to 

Here I learned that an uncle, Mr. B. H. 
Robinson of Prattsville, New York, who 
years ago had spent some time in California, 
had just returned and was at Uniontown, 
two miles down the river. For awhile I was 
inclined to change my plan and remain in 


iUcturn to ?^i^cDti^tn 

California, but as my business interests were 
arranged I concluded to go on. So bidding 
good-bye to Soper, who returned to my cabin, 
and after spending an evening with my uncle, 
whose family I expected to visit in New 
York, a stage ride of sixty- two miles brought 
me to Sacramento, where, taking a steam- 
boat, sometime during the following night I 
reached San Francisco. 

I had planned to sail about the last of 
June, Monday, the 27th, on the steamer 
Sierra Nevada, and was detained but a single 
day in the city; but in the early part of that 
day an incident was added to my experience, 
which emphasized the adage, "Eternal vigi- 
lance is the price of liberty,** and other 
valuable things. 

On leaving Uniontown a burly, rather well- 
dressed man occupied a seat in the stage; we 
took dinner at the same hotel, and when I 
purchased a ticket on the steamer for San 
Francisco, he also was present and obtained 
one. Though a total stranger, he knew that I 
had been for some time in the mines and that 
I was now on my way home. 

I was surprised at his knowledge, for I had 
told him nothing about it, but I supposed 
he might have overheard the conversation 
with my uncle the night before, and there- 
fore it excited no suspicion. He was social 


^Tn €amp antJ €abxn 

and pleasant, professed to be well acquainted 
in San Francisco, and suggested a stopping 
place; but I had made up my mind to stop at 
the Atlantic Hotel, as I had been there before. 
** Yes," said he, " that's a good place, and I'll 
go with you." 

However, there were several Mexicans on 
the boat, and wishing to improve m.y Span- 
ish, I spent most of the time during the trip 
in conversation with them. 

At midnight or later our boat reached the 
wharf, and taking our satchels we started for 
the hotel. When almost there he invited me 
up to a lighted room, "to have something to 

"No, I want no liquor." 

"Then will you be so kind as to wait here 
until I return.?" 

I begged to be excused, could be of no 
special service to him, and was quite ready 
for sleep. I was surprised in not finding him 
next morning at the breakfast table; in fact 
he had not come to the hotel. 

Looking over the morning paper, I noticed 
that the Sierra Nevada lying at long wharf, 
was announced to sail the next day; so, 
preparatory to the purchase of a ticket, I 
started for the steamer to select a stateroom. 
It was early in the forenoon and on a 
thronged street when I again met the 


Uttutn to Wi^ton^in 

stranger who had accompanied me from 
Uniontown. We recognized each other, and 
in passing he unawares crowded me against a 
door, which was on a level with the sidewalk, 
and with a sudden push thrust me inside. 

Instead of the usual revolver, I carried two 
single shooters in a place prepared inside my 
coat; and, while with my right hand trying 
to prevent his shutting the outside door, 
with my left hand I cocked one, drew it, but 
just then saw another man standing in a side 
door, and as I raised the pistol he disap- 
peared and shut the door. In an instant I 
drew the other pistol with my right hand, 
when the man who had pushed me in disap- 
peared through a door on the opposite side 
and it was shut. 

Bewildered, I stood for a moment with a 
cocked pistol in either hand, and on regain- 
ing presence of mind, saw that the room was 
only about six feet square, but containing 
three doors. Coming in from the street there 
was a door on the right and left, through 
which the men had disappeared. 

Approaching the front door, which my 
assailant in his haste to get beyond the range 
of my pistol had failed to close tightly, I 
swung it open and stepped out upon the side- 
walk. Meeting a policeman, I asked him to 
arrest the man who had assaulted me. 


5^n Camp anti Cabin 

"Where is he?" he asked. 

"In this house," I repHed. 

"You can't identify him." 

"Yes, he followed me all the way from 
Uniontown. I can't be mistaken in the man 
who laid hands on me." 

The policeman paid no further attention 
to my request; so congratulating myself that 
I was still alive and in possession of my 
liberty, passage and expense money, I went 
to long wharf, boarded the steamer, selected 
a stateroom, and going to the shipping office 
secured a ticket. 

As I reflected on the episode of the morn- 
ing, the fact that I had been pursued by a 
robber became apparent, and only instant 
resort to the pistols saved me from being 
robbed or worse. The room into which I was 
so suddenly pushed was evidently a prepared 
trap, into which the victims who could not 
be decoyed might be. forced. But even with 
this experience, I had no idea of the actual 
condition of the city. The city government at 
that time was entirely in the hands of the 
saloon element, gamblers, and thugs. 

Up to this time more than twelve hundred 
murders had been known and registered, and 
there were reasons to believe twice that 
number had been committed; and yet not a 
criminal had been brought to justice. Police- 


JKeturn to Wi^ton^in 

men, police courts, officers of all grade were 
implicated in crime, even to Judge Terry of 
the United States District Court. 

Men absorbed in their business affairs had 
neglected their duties as citizens and the 
baser sort had taken possession of the offices, 
and those whose duty required them to pro- 
tect the people and the legitimate business of 
the city became a terror and menace to both. 
There may have been some well-meaning 
men in office, but they were too few to exert 
any influence, and at this time San Francisco 
was governed by criminals and the people 
lived in fear. 

A few months later the editor of the Eve- 
ning Bulletin, James King, published an 
article which displeased a prominent official, 
and was deliberately shot down at noonday 
in a busy thoroughfare, the murderer making 
no effort at concealment, so confident was he 
that no court in the city would convict him. 
There was a veritable reign of terror; with 
life and property at stake, men were afraid to 
offend the officials, and at the same time 
dared not trust each other. 

At this time many citizens of San Fran- 
cisco regarded its government as hopeless, 
not only the offices but the ballot boxes being 
in unworthy hands. To avoid collision with 
the officials and endure what they seemed 

2Fn Camp anti €abm 

powerless to remedy was the best they 
could expect. 

But there was another class who attended 
strictly to their own business, and were 
desirous that others should do the same. 
Patiently enduring evils while they were 
endurable, if compelled to suspend their 
business operations in order to chastise evil 
doers, they were not embarrassed as to meth- 
ods; doing it quietly, effectively, and with 
the least expenditure of time. Possibly at 
this date California had a greater number of 
this class in proportion to its population 
than any other state. 

When through the deliberate murder of 
James King it became evident that citizens 
were compelled to defend themselves even 
against officials, and that those whose duty it 
was to execute justice must be brought to 
justice, these men calmly considered the 
situation; and though people were suspicious 
of each other, the movement proceeded with 
such care that the best elements of society, 
not only in San Francisco but in other parts 
of the state, were united, organized as a 
vigilance committee, with plan of work and 
necessary preparation. 

When all was ready, many men from other 
parts of the state quietly entered San Fran- 
cisco and at a preconcerted moment most of 


Mttntn to Wi^con^in 

the city officials were arrested; the armory 
opened, and arms distributed to the already 
organized citizen soldiers; redoubts built of 
sacks filled with sand; cannon mounted, 
trusty guards placed on duty as police; and 
finally courts were convened and the offend- 
ers placed on trial. 

Of course the Governor called out the state 
militia; but it not being well organized, those 
who were interested generally joined the 
Vigilantes, leaving him powerless. For once 
there was government of the people, by the 
people, and for the people. 

Meantime, the improvised courts com- 
pleted their work. Some of the prisoners were 
executed; some were allowed to leave the 
state under promise never to return; and 
certain officials^ against whom there was 
only suspicion, were permitted to resume 

When the work was completed the sand- 
bag forts and cannon were removed, the 
state arms put in good condition and re- 
stored to the armory, all office keys delivered 
to the proper officials, and then the commit- 
tees adjourned and retired to their respective 

Should it be necessary, the citizens in 
their organized strength could promptly re- 
assemble; but their work had been so well 


2Fn Camp anb Cabin 

done there was no such need, and for years 
after that outburst of popular indignation 
perhaps no city was as well governed as San 

Returning homeward, it was my intention 
to land at Acapulco on the west coast of 
Mexico, and taking the national road, visit 
the capital; thence to some port on the Gulf, 
whence, after seeing something of that very 
interesting country and its people, I could 
ship for New York. But the day we sailed 
from San Francisco the morning papers an- 
nounced that General Santa Anna had dis- 
solved the Mexican congress by military 
force, and that the country was in the throes 
of revolution. 

This made me regret my plan, especially 
when I found a Mexican among the passen- 
gers who said he had personal letters con- 
firming the report. He was bitterly opposed 
to Santa x^nna and gave many instances of 
his treachery to the Mexican government, 
expressing the opinion that he was plotting 
the downfall of the Republic and the estab- 
lishment of a m.onarchy upon its ruins. 

The cabin and deck of an ocean steamer 
afford unusual facilities for people to become 
acquainted. I soon discovered that there 
were on board men from many interesting 
parts of the world; and by approaching such 


iSeturn to S^iiefcon^in 

in a quiet questioning way, in some secluded 
corner, much that was instructive and enter- 
taining might be learned. 

Among the passengers was an Irishman 
named O'Donohue, who, with Thomas F. 
Meagher and others, having rebelled against 
the English government, were tried for trea- 
son and banished to Van Diemen's Land; 
but making his escape, reached San Francisco 
in an American vessel, and was now on his 
way to New York. 

Monday, July 4, was celebrated at sea, 
and O'Donohue being orator of the day, 
portrayed the perfidy of England, the wrongs 
of Ireland, the rise and fall of the rebellion, 
his trial, banishment, and escape to a ship 
flying the United States' flag, which he 
asserted was the only flag in the world that 
could give him protection. 

A splendid dinner was served and I no- 
ticed that many of the passengers drank to 
excess, and there was revelry and confusion 
in the cabins. Retiring early to my state- 
room to avoid the noise and drunken men, 
although the sea was calm, hours passed 
before slumber came to my relief. 

Shortly after midnight, aroused by the in- 
tense heat of my room, I hastily dressed and 
sought the deck. Most of the revelers had 
become quiet, but as I looked out on the 


2Fn Camp anli €a6m 

quarter deck it was evident that the officer in 
command was too drunk to attend to any 

Attracted to the door of the engine room 
by the boisterous mirth of the engineer and 
his assistant, the view was not assuring. The 
place was overheated, and the machinery 
evidently laboring under a tremendous 
strain. On the stairway leading down to the 
furnaces stood a man who seemed to be in 
command of the coal heavers, shouting occa- 
sionally, "Shove her up there. Don't let the 
fire go out. Turn on the draft," etc. 

The heat was intense, and the men, clearly 
under the inspiration of strong drink, were 
doing their best, but there was something 
frightful in the red glare of the fires, and the 
ponderous machinery in rapid motion made 
the great ship, over three hundred feet long, 
tremble from end to end. 

Slowly ascending to the upper deck, paus- 
ing a moment at the door of my room to find 
its heat insuflferable, I found a company of 
passengers, who, like myself, had been driven 
from their rooms by the heat which pervaded 
the central part of the ship. 

We were somewhere west or south of Cape 
San Lucas and had plenty of sea room, and as 
for accidents — boiler explosion, breakage of 
machinery, or the ship taking fire, whatever 


iSctum to ^i^con^in 

might happen — we could only do the best 
possible according to events and condi- 
tions. But I would have felt much safer on 
land, or on a ship controlled by sane men. 
However, lying on a bench under the star- 
gemmed sky, I slept uneasily until morning. 
Grateful that we had been preserved from 
accident and glad that the celebration was 
over and a sober crew again in charge of the 
ship, I sought my stateroom, now cooled 
off and very comfortable, and during the 
remainder of the voyage experienced no 
inconvenience from heat. 

Reaching Acapulco, where our vessel 
stopped a short time, I learned from the 
American consul that a division of Santa 
Anna's army was encamped near the city, 
that all coaches had been removed from the 
national road, and that private travel, even 
if possible, would be extremely dangerous. 
So, returning to the steamer, I concluded to 
go by way of Central America. 

Nearing the west coast of Nicaragua, be- 
tween two mountain-like promontories our 
steamer entered a small bay at the head of 
which was the town of San Juan del Su?' (St. 
John of the South). There was no wharf, the 
ship anchored, and the passengers and bag- 
gage were sent part way in boats, and were 
met by natives, who, wading through the 


3^n €amp anb Cabin 

water, carried them on their shoulders to 
dry ground. 

Seated on the brawny shoulders of a 
Zambo (a person of Indian and negro blood) 
while another carried my satchel, I was 
borne high and dry through the surf. 

I inquired, "How much do you charge?" 

"One dime each." 

My smallest change was a five franc silver 
piece, current at ninety-five cents. Handing 
it to one, I remarked: "You must both take 
your pay out of that." 

Without thought of seeing either of them, 
again, I went some distance to a corral to 
obtain a mule, and just before starting for 
Virgin Bay on Lake Nicaragua one of the 
men brought me the exact change; fifty cents 
in coin, two pieces of soap at ten cents each, 
and a cake of chocolate at five cents. 

I mention this as an evidence of the hon- 
esty of these people, and also to call atten- 
tion to the fact that articles of merchandise 
rather than coins were used as money. Buy- 
ing two cents worth of bananas, I gave the 
five cent cake of chocolate, receiving in 
change three rows of pins at one cent a row, 
these current articles being always accepted 
without complaint. The only inconvenience, 
you needed a basket instead of a purse in 
which to carry your change. 


Ifteturn to Wt0ton$xn 

From San Juan del Sur to Virgin Bay was 
twelve miles, first ascending a steep moun- 
tain ridge and then by a gradual descent to 
the lake, where we arrived late in the after- 
noon. The expected boats to take us down 
the lake had not arrived, and the principal 
hotel being overcrowded, several of us were 
directed to another, where in broken Eng- 
lish we were very cordially welcomed by 
the proprietor, an elderly Spaniard. 

While making a hurried tour through the 
village, night came with scarcely a warning 
of twilight. However, a weird light reflected 
from the mists around the crest of a volcano 
on the island of Ometepe, in the lake, 
enabled me to find the way to my hotel. 

Now the town seemed more populous than 
by day. Lights were hung out and the 
verandas were thronged with merry, laugh- 
ing, talking, singing groups. At one place 
under an archway of bamboo, supporting a 
roof of palm leaves, a large company of 
ladies and gentlemen were engaged in a 
dance. As it was near the street, I paused 
a few minutes, listening to the lively music 
of the guitar and tambourine and watching 
the strange yet graceful movements of the 

The gentlemen wore a row of metallic but- 
tons on the outside of their pantaloons from 


^n €amp anb Cabin 

the knee down, and the usual buttoned and 
braided Spanish jacket. The ladies with dark 
skirt and bright colored basque, some with a 
slight, turban-shaped band around the head, 
but most of them bareheaded; their black 
hair tastefully arranged in heavy braids, 
and studded with what seemed the most 
brilliant gems. Returning to my hotel, I told 
the landlord about the dance and the pro- 
fuse display of gems. With a dignified smile 
he replied: 

"They are not real gems, but lantern flies, 
which the ladies at night pin in their hair." 

"But is not that very cruel?" 

"O, no," said he, "they do not stick the 
pin into the fly; only fix it so as to bind the 
fly in place, and when set at liberty it flies 
away unhurt." 

Our hotel furnished no printed bill of fare, 
but at supper our host came into the dining 
room and politely announced, " Bread, yams, 
chicken, eggs," and various other things 
difficult to remember, closing with, "tea 
coff"ee, and chocolate; all or part as you have 

I could not remember having tasted chicken 
since entering California, and very naturally 
had an appetite for it. But when brought, it 
had little to remind me of chicken, — perhaps 
I had forgotten, — slightly resembling certain 


iSeturn to Wi^con^in 

parts of wild fowl, but this had been skinned, 
not picked. Still, trying to make allowance for 
latitude and cooking, I almost persuaded my- 
self that it was delicious chicken until an 
attendant, who spoke only Spanish, entered, 
and I inquired of him, ''^Se llame polio estoV^ 
(Do you call this chicken?). 

*Wo, SenoTj se llama mono, iesta bien, no?*' 
(No sir, it is called monkey, very good, is it 

Coming over the ridge from San Juan del 
Sur, I had seen them by the roadside, swing- 
ing on the branches of trees and chattering as 
we passed; but the idea of having one served 
for supper never entered my mind, and cer- 
tainly failed to give relish to my evening 

The hotel was a bamboo structure roofed 
with palm leaves and partitioned with the 
same material. My bedroom was quite small, 
with a hammock suspended diagonally, 
about three feet from the floor. 

Unaccustomed to such a bed, I found some 
difficulty in keeping properly balanced; and 
instead of the regular throb of the machinery, 
to which I had become used on board the 
ship, I could distinctly feel the tremble of 
the ground and hear the rumble and boom 
of the volcano on an island in the lake; while 
the vapor above the mountain, probably 


5Fn €a\x\p anb €a6in 

reflecting the fires of the crater, looked like 
an immense flame. 

Falling into a sound sleep, toward morning 
I waked to find myself on the matted floor. 
The room was dark; everything seemed in 
motion; and mingled with the thunders of 
the volcano came the roar of waters, as the 
surf is rolled upon the rocks by the incoming 
tide. It seemed as though Lake Nicaragua 
was overwhelming the town. 

Seeing a light in the office, bewildered, 
frightened, and but half-dressed, I peered in. 
There sat the proprietor, holding a lighted 
candle in his hand, and smoking a cigarette. 

I exclaimed: 'USenor, que es estaV^ (Sir, 
what is this?). 

Calmly he replied; '' Nada sino tierra 
temblor'' (Nothing but an earthquake). 

His calmness allayed my fears, and enter- 
ing into conversation, I learned that for 
several days the volcano had been unusually 
active, and only a few minutes before, there 
was a severe earthquake shock; and I sup- 
pose it was this that caused me to fall from 
my hammock. Daylight revealed the lake in 
great agitation, and although it seemed at its 
usual level, we could see where a wave had 
swept the lower part of the town, doing some 
damage to the bamboo buildings, though I 
think no lives were lost. 


iSeturn to Wi^ton^m 

During the forenoon a steamboat came up 
the lake from San Carlos, but as there was 
no proper wharf it could not approach the 
shore, and the only way of getting on board 
was by means of a lighter; a boat made of 
iron plates riveted together, like a steam 
boiler, with hollow, water-tight sides, which 
prevented it from capsizing or sinking; and 
there was not much danger of its breaking 
against the rocks. This was brought to a 
rocky point, and as the wave carried it up 
nearly level with the top of the rock those 
who were ready jumped in ; the receding wave 
carried the boat out into the lake and it was 
rowed to the steamboat, where, leaving its 
passengers, it returned for another load. 

While this was in operation a deeply affect- 
ing incident occurred. At another point 
about twenty rods from the boat-landing a 
boy, said to be seven or eight years old, a 
native of the town, walked down the shelving 
rocks to a point washed by the waves. An 
alligator from some place near by came sud- 
denly upon him, cutting off his retreat. With 
frantic gestures and screams he appealed for 
help, but before assistance could be given he 
was seized, and both boy and alligator disap- 
peared beneath the waters of the lake. 

These reptiles, called by the natives Cay- 
mans, are very nun^erous in this country, 


^Tn Camp anti €ahm 

some growing to a length of eighteen feet, 
and are found along the lakes and streams, 
often lying on the bank of the river or lake, 
their bodies accommodated to the curve of 
the bank and their head resting on a level 
with the water. Their strong jaws, red in- 
side and adorned with rows of white teeth, 
seemed to open and shut like a pair of 

When the passengers were all on board, 
our little boat steamed out near the island of 
Ometepe, said to be about twenty miles long 
north and south and about seven wide. The 
volcano is rather north of the center, but the 
whole island was so enveloped in mist or 
steam, in many places descending to the 
water, that it resemibled a vast cloud resting 
upon the lake, from the center of which came 
the heavy rumble of the volcano, like the 
roar of a distant thunder storm. 

In the afternoon we reached the outlet of 
the lake, and source of the San Juan River, 
which flows into the Caribbean Sea. Here the 
recent earthquake, by raising a bar across 
the outlet of the lake, not only prevented our 
boat from going farther, but by shutting off 
the usual flow of water, for a time greatly 
interfered with the navigation of the river. 
This, however, enabled me to visit the old 
town and fort of San^ Carlos. The village 


Uttntn to 13^i^cDn.)^in 

occupied a beautiful highland overlooking 
both lake and river; but the houses were the 
usual low, bamboo, palm-leaf-covered style 
common to this country. 

The fort, once commanding the lake shore 
and outlet, built of stone, with a moat about 
ten feet wide, was a mass of ruins. To all 
appearance the wreck had been wrought by 
an explosion many years ago. Many beau- 
tiful brass or bronze cannon were mixed in 
or underlying the demolished walls. 

Near the ruined fort was a long shed used 
as barracks by a company of soldiers. 
Clothed in pantaloons and jacket of un- 
bleached sheeting, barefoot, but wearing a 
small Panama hat, and armed with heavy 
Austrian muskets, their appearance was 
rather grotesque than military. However, 
what was lacking in the dress and uniform 
of subalterns and privates was amply made 
up by the commissioned officers, who were 
brilliant in bright colors, gold lace, and pol- 
ished leather. And probably there was the 
same contrast in their pay. 

After a delay of about twenty-four hours 
two small scow-like boats were brought up, 
to which we transferred, and floated down to 
the head of Castillo Rapids. Going around 
these on foot, we stopped for the night at the 
little hamlet of Castillo. At this transfer a 


3rn Camp anti Cabin 

highly prized gift from my old Indian friend 
Capitan Juan, which, neatly boxed, I had 
kept with special care, was stolen. 

While coming down the river I greatly ad- 
mired the forest scenery on either bank and 
was glad to get ashore, anticipating a stroll 
among the beautiful trees; but it was a case 

"Distance lends enchantment to the view." 

It was impossible to take a single step from 
the beaten path. Prickly vines were so closely 
interlaced that it would be necessary to cut 
them at the ground, overhead, on both sides, 
and even then, the great, green, thorny vines 
would bar your way in front. 

The next morning the journey was con- 
tinued down the San Juan on a small steam- 
boat. Just below the mouth of the San Car- 
los, a large tributary from the south, a short 
stop was made at Ochoa, in the republic of 
Costa Rica, and amid swarms of alligators 
and the most beautiful and wonderful vege- 
tation, with enough rain every day to keep it 
fresh and clean; at last, passing the low corals 
at the mouth of the river, our little boat be- 
gan to rise and fall on the swells that rolled 
in from the Caribbean Sea and soon glided 
safely into the bay of San Juan del Norte, 
or Greytown. 


iSeturn to 93?i^cDni9fin 

The steamship Northern Light lay at an- 
chor in the bay, and we were taken on 
board and soon settled cozy enough on this 
floating palace. It was not so large as the 
Sierra Nevada^ which had brought us from 
San Francisco, but in form and finish with- 
out and within it seemed absolutely per- 

It was late in the afternoon when we came 
on board, and I was greatly pleased at being 
permitted to accompany an oflicer of the 
ship to town. However, our stay was too 
brief to obtain more than a glimpse of one 
of the main streets. There were some quite 
large buildings, but most of the houses were 
of the usual pattern seen in this country — 
bamboo, thatched with palm leaves. 

After supper, with several of the passen- 
gers, I asked the privilege of again being 
taken ashore, but the officer explained that 
it would not be well for us to go in the eve- 
ning; if, however, a boat load of passengers 
expected from the Pacific Coast, did not 
arrive during the night there would be an 
opportunity for us to go in the morning. 

He said there was some misunderstanding 
between the republic of Nicaragua and the 
United States. A man-of-war had been sent 
to protect our interests, and soon after a 
British warship arrived, perhaps to see fair 


5^n Camp anti Cabin 

play, but more probably for the reason that 
at that time the neighboring so-called Mos- 
quito Reserve was under the protectorate of 
England; and it was not until 1894 that it was 
reincorporated with the republic of Nica- 

Of course the Passenger Line was careful 
not to give any occasion for trouble. 

Some time after this Senator Borland was 
sent by the United States government to ad- 
just matters, but a misunderstanding arose 
between him and the governor of Nicara- 
gua which induced Borland to take shelter 
on the American man-of-war. From this he 
endeavored to renew negotiations, but the 
governor was now on his dignity and refused 
further parley. All efforts failed to elicit a 
reply. At last Lieutenant Ingrahm, com- 
manding the man-of-war, sent a formal 
demand for a reply within a specified time, 
under penalty of firing on the town. 

There was a fort on a point north of Grey- 
town; but a vessel near enough to bombard 
the town from the south would probably be 
out of the range of its guns. 

As the time approached Lieutenant In- 
grahm brought his ship into position and 
signaled his readiness to begin, and when the 
time expired without response, he opened 
fire, demolishing the houses within his range, 


Mttntn to l^i^cDti^in 

and then, sending a boat's crew ashore, 
burned the ruins. 

The inhabitants had ample warning and 
probably few, if any, were killed, but their 
property was destroyed without accomplish- 
ing any good. It was a cowardly act of war, 
and surely a discredit to the nation.^ 

The window of my stateroom looked out 
upon the town, and the wide array of lights 
made it appear larger by night than by day, 
while the phosphorescent flash of the tropical 
waves rolling in the distance resembled a 
sea of fire. 

Wearied with the day's journey, under the 
influence of the weird lights and soft night 
air I fell into a profound sleep, and did not 
wake until sunrise. Noticing the tremble of 
the ship and the regular throb of the ma- 
chinery, I looked from my window and in- 
stead of the town saw only the wide expanse 
of ocean. 

It was difficult to realize how deep my 
slumber had been. The expected passengers 
had arrived, anchor had been weighed, the 

^A resume of the Nicaraguan dispute and the bom- 
bardment of Greytown may be found in Theodore C. 
Smith's Parties and Slavery, iSjO-iS^g (New York, 
1906), 88-93. Our author had no first-hand knowledge 
of the affair and his account of it is inadequate in several 


^n Camp anli €abm 

ponderous engines started, and the parting 
signal fired without even disturbing my rest. 

Hastily dressing and going on deck, the 
merest trace of land lay off in the direction 
of the Mosquito Coast; on all other sides the 
horizontal line was an equal blending of sea 
and sky. 

Sea voyages and life on ship board, in their 
daily routine, though interesting, have been 
described so often that I leave out all but a 
few special items. 

After leaving Greytown, for several days 
the sea was very rough, with an occasional 
squall and dash of rain. While on deck one 
afternoon three waterspouts appeared, one 
quite near and coming toward the ship. A 
dark mass of cloud arched us like a frown- 
ing cliff, and the column of water which 
connected it with the sea seemed running 
downward rather than upward, as in pic- 
tures they had appeared to my boyish 

Presently all passengers were ordered be- 
low and the hatches battened down. Just as 
I started down the companion way, lightning 
rent the main mast to splinters and sent the 
rigging, spars, and pulleys flying in the wind 
across the deck. Several men in the gangway 
were prostrated by the electric shock; the 
two engineers sprang from the engine room, 


lUctunt to Wi^tm^in 

which, as I looked inside through the open 
door, seemed a mass of flame. The door was 
instantly closed, but the passengers raised 
the cry, **Fire! fire! the ship is on fire!" 

Some fainted, many became wild with 
terror. Screams, prayers, sobs, and even 
curses emphasized the confusion. Standing 
on the lower steps of the companion way, 
like one in a dream, I surveyed the scene. 

The motion of the ship, the roar of the 
floods, the waters trickling through every 
seam, indicated that we were in the grip of 
the hurricane; and considering the storm 
without and the fire within, escape for awhile 
seemed hopeless; and with the rest I believed 
the ship would be lost. 

However, the crew under the direction of 
competent officers was at work; and in a few 
minutes men were ready with a large hose 
attached to a steam pump to put out the 
flames. The engine room door was opened; 
dense volumes of smoke rolled out, but no 
fire was found within. The closed doors and 
water filled seams had smothered it; but 
along one side the dry, oil soaked wood, 
charred and blackened, showed how intense 
the fire had been. 

In about two hours the hurricane was over, 
the wreckage of the mast had been cleared 
away, and with feelings of safety and of 


^n Camp anti Cabin 

gratitude to God we were permitted again 
to pace the deck. 

A rough sea and an occasional squall broke 
the monotony of the voyage as we sailed out 
of the Caribbean Sea and across a corner of 
the Gulf of Mexico. Stopping a short time at 
Havana, our good ship in due time entered 
the Gulf Stream, probably the greatest river 
in the world, with its warm-water current 
and cold-water banks. We encountered the 
usual gale off Cape Hatteras, and one beau- 
tiful, calm, moonlight night sailed into the 
harbor of New York. 

Two days afterward, crossing the Catskill 
Mountains, I visited the family of my uncle, 
B. H. Robinson, at Prattsville; and a week 
later started to visit several cousins of my 
father, who owned and conducted a boarding 
academy in a country place named after the 
proprietors, Fergusonville. By stage from 
Prattsville, I reached the nearest village. 
East Davenport, about 7 p. m., and put up at 
the hotel, intending to visit Fergusonville, 
three miles distant, the next morning. 

While supper was in preparation the land- 
lord informed me that there would be some 
delay, as more than twenty girls from the 
school had arrived and requested supper. 
Contrary to the rules, they were out on a 
lark, and had come on foot, part way through 


Ifteturn to Wx^ton^in 

the woods, expecting to be back before they 
were missed. With the landlord and his wife, 
I joined them at the table; and for awhile 
they were certainly the wildest, giddiest, 
merriest company I ever saw. 

When supper was nearly over, one ran to 
the door and returning, exclaimed; 

"O, girls! it is raining!" and a dozen voices 
answered, '*0, what shall we do?" And the 
light and music and cheer faded out of some 
twenty happy hearts. 

It rained all night, and the next morning 
the landlord provided conveyances and the 
penitent company returned to school. While 
their enterprise amounted to much more than 
they had anticipated, still it was not a 
success according to their expectations. 

Visiting the school, I spent the day with 
Rev. Samuel D. and Sanford I. Ferguson, 
warden and principal of the school, and their 
families. The school officials were solving the 
perplexing problem how most kindly to deal 
with so many guilty of such a grievous dis- 
regard of discipline, and yet maintain the 
dignity of the school. The mystery of school 
discipline, like all other mysteries, is mani- 
fest in its results. So far as I could judge 
every person connected with the school was 
as busy and happy as though nothing unusual 
had happened. 

3 S3 

^Tn Camp anti Ca6tn 

The campus embraced about three hun- 
dred acres, and the pupils were nearly all 
from large cities. In coming or returning 
they were always accompanied by some re- 
sponsible person. Arriving at the school, they 
enjoyed greater liberty than would be possi- 
ble in village or city. Outdoor exercise, the 
country air, life and influence of the Chris- 
tian home, and the absence of all corrupting 
influences made it a desirable place for young 
people, and many who lived in cities were 
willing to pay almost any price that their 
children might enjoy the benefits of that 

At Walton village I met with Brother 
Edward, and after a few weeks among the 
friends and haunts of our early boyhood, re- 
turned to Wisconsin, reaching Lodi in the 
early days of September, 1853, after an ab- 
sence of about three and a half years. Years 
of some financial profit; not wasted as re- 
gards intellectual improvement; of considera- 
ble value in personal experience; and more 
than ever anxious to take up my suspended 
studies, and, if possible, realize my cherished 
dream of becoming thoroughly fitted for the 
work of an educator. 

But the boy who penned the preceding 
pages had just passed his twenty-first year; 
boyhood had given place to manhood; In 


jSetum to ^i^con^in 

Camp and Cabin is part of the record of his 
lost youth, and his feelings found expression 
in the words of Longfellow's minor strain, 
"My Lost Youth." 
And thus, 

"my youth comes back to me, 
And a verse of a Lapland song 
Is haunting my memory still: 
'A boy's will is the wind's will, 
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.* 

There are things of which I may not speak; 

There are dreams that cannot die; 
There are thoughts that make the strong heart weak, 
And bring a pallor into the cheek. 
And a mist before the eye 

And the words of that fatal song 

Come over me like a chill: 

*A boy's will is the wind's will, 
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'" 




A — , , charity of miners toward, 284-85. 

Acapulco, Steele visits, 337. 

Ague, rarity of in California, 14. 

Alligator, devours child, 343-44. 

Almoden, mines of, no. 

Alvarado, Governor, Governor of California, 71, 76; 

leads insurrection, 99-101. 
Amador, Don Jose Maria, ranch of, 70. 
American Fur Company, trading post visited, 27; 

William L. Sublette opposes, 34. 
American Ranch, miners visit, 186, 188. 
American River, as logging stream, 107; miners cross, 

205; operations on, 206, 213-14, 228; climate, 

Amputation, of leg, described, 276-77. 

Anderson, , murdered, 270. 

Antelopes, emigrants kill, 63. 

Antoine Cafion, mining enterprise, 308-10. 

Ash Hollow, site of emigrant camp, 26. 

Ashley, General, partner in fur trade, 34. 

Atlantic Hotel, gold seekers put up at, 210; Steele stops 

at, 328. 
Bacon, as antidote for poison, 129. 
Badgely, James, expedition to Antoine Canon, 308-10. 

Baker, , member of emigrant party, 25. 

Barker, Elijah, career narrated, 260-63. 

Barker, James, as slaveholder, 260-63. 

Bartleson, , elected captain of emigrant train, 22; 

sells alcohol to trappers, 35; hostility toward Bidwell, 

48; criticized, 49-50; abandons emigrants, 54-55; 

rejoins, 57. 


Batea, use in gold mining, 98-99. 

Bear Lake, source of Bear River, 27. 

Bear River, route of emigrants via, 27, 39, 44; gold 
discovered, 98. 

Bees, wild, in Platte Purchase, 9-10. 

Berry, John, expedition to Antoine Canon, 308-10. 

Bidwell, John, career sketched, xi-xv; journey from 
Ohio to Iowa, 5-6; from Iowa to Missouri, 7-10; 
visits St. Louis, lo-ii; claim jumped, 12; organizes 
California party, 14-15, 20-21; journey to Cali- 
fornia, 22-65; detained by oxen, 39-42, 46-48, 54; 
criticizes Captain Bartleson, 49, 54; seeks passage 
through mountains, 58-62; discovers Calaveras 
Grove, 61; visits Livermore Valley, 69-70; passport 
difficulties, 72-73; visits Sutter's Fort, 73-75; 
sojourn at Fort Ross and Fort Bodega, 79-80; gold- 
discovery project, 97-99; failure, 102; share in re- 
volt against Governor Micheltorena, 101-102; hunts 
for gold, 102-103, ^^9^ employed by John A. Sutter, 

Bighorn sheep, habitat of, 23- 

Big Meadows, miners pass, 172-74, 178-79. 

Big Sandy River, route of emigrants via, 27. 

Bilhard table, first in California, 93. 

Blackfeet Indians, emigrants fear, 41. 

Black Fork, route of emigrants via, 27. 

Bonneville, Benj. E. L., career sketched, 66. 

Borland, Senator, U. S. diplomatic agent, 348. 

Boston, early trade with California, 89, 99. 

Bowers, Zachary, Steele visits, 145. 

Bowen, Thomas, befriends Bidwell, 73. 

Brannan, Sam, gold weighed, 109. 

Bread, made by miners, 157-58. 

Brown, Elam, has map of California, 16. 

Buck Eye Ranch, miners visit, 199. 

Buffaloes, emigrants encounter, 30; numbers, 31; oxen 
ioin, 32; disappearance of, ;i2i Indians kill, 49. 


Buffalo grass, described, 32. 

Burlington, Bidwell visits, 6; capital of Iowa Territory, 7. 

Burt, , feud over ownership of mine, 264-67. 

Calaveras Grove, Bidwell discovers, 61. 

Calaveras River, Steele visits, 251. 

California, first overland party to, xi-xii; residence of 
Bidwell, xii-xv; emigration fever roused, 13-14; 
Emigration Society organized, 14-15; ignorance con- 
cerning route, 15-16, 23, 38-39, 42-45, 50-65; 
experiences of T. J. Farnhara, 16-20; character of 
early Americans, 18-19, 88-89; journey of first over- 
land train, 21-65; drought of 1841, 67; lack of 
physicians, 67, 90-92; hospitality of Spanish ele- 
ment, 83-85, 247; native carts described, 85-86; 
early commerce, 89, 99; scarcity of lawyers, 92; 
discovery of gold, 95-1 ii; Fremont's first visit, 
104-105; election of 1851, 226; characteristics of 
Spanish element, 237-48; hostility between, and 
Americans, 251-52. 

California cat, as pet, ^92-93. 

Callanan, , at Klamath mines, 207. 

Callanan, Dr. , treats Steele, 130. 

Callanan, Henry, member of overland party, 119; of 
Klamath enterprise, 200. 

Callanan, John, member of overland party, 119; of 
Klamath enterprise, 200. 

Campbell, Robert, partner in fur trade, 34. 

Canon Creek, miners camp on, 161. 

Caiionville, mining camp, 150. 

Capitan Juan, son slain, 234; reports smallpox visita- 
tion, 249; presents gift to Steele, 259-60; tragedy of 
son, 293-305, 323-26; invites Steele to attend 
council, 313. 

Carson Lake, emigrants reach, 57. 

Carson River, emigrants cross, 56; route via, 277. 

Carts, of Cahfornia, described, 85-86. 

Castillero, , discovers quicksilver, 109-110. 


Castillo Rapids, travelers pass, 345. 

Castro, Jose, leads insurrection, 99-101; visits John A. 

Sutter, 109-10. 
Cattle, rearing, in early California, 70, 238-45; trade in 

hides, 89-90, 247-48. 
Cenlury Magazine^ publishes Bidwell's narrative, xv. 
Chapman, George, expedition to Antoine Cafion, 

Chapman, Levi, expedition to Antoine Canon, 308-10. 
Cheny, John, on Feather River expedition, 157, 159. 
Cheyenne Indians, scare emigrant, 28-30; hunting 

habits, 30. 
Chico, Advertiser, publishes Bidwell's narrative, xv. 
Chico, Guadalupe, daughter of Jesus Chico, 238, 246. 
Chico, Hernando, son of Jesus Chico, 238; journey to 

Los Angeles, 238-48. 
Chico, Jesucita, daughter of Jesus Chico, 238, 246. 
Chico, Jesus, befriended by Steele, 224-25; Steele 

visits, 237-48. 
Chilenos, feud between, and American miners, 264-67. 
ChiU Bar, miner murdered, 270; miners pass, 280. 
Chimney Rock, emigrants pass, 27, 23- 
Church service, in mines, described, 306-308. 
Clark, Peter F., partner of Steele, 228-30, 232-33; 

returns to Missouri, 236; acquaintance with Elijah 

Barker, 260. 
Clear Lake, Bidwell visits, 80. 
Coast Range Mountains, emigrants view, 62. 
Coloma, gold discovered, 97; Steele visits, 227-28, 248; 

scenes at post office, 305. 
Colubrine, in miners* cabins, 288-89. 
Columbia County (Wis.), home of Steele, xv, 120. 
Columbia Ranch, Pah Ute Indian village, 234-35; 

smallpox epidemic, 249-51, 259-60; as miners, 286- 

87; see also Thomas and Capitan Juan. 
Consumption, western journey as cure, 16-17, 274. 
Contra Costa County, first settlement in, 67. 


Cooledge, , grocer, 296. 

Court House Rocks, emigrants pass, 27, 2'^-33' 

Coyotes, emigrants eat, 63. 

Coyote Ridge, mining operations on, 203, 

Cremation, practiced by Pah Ute Indians, 250. 

Crows, eaten by emigrants, 60. 

Cuyama Creek, route via, 242. 

Cyclone, emigrants encounter, 32. 

Daniels, , California venture narrated, 134-37. 

Davis, Abijah, Steele visits, 145. 
Davis, Colonel, affair narrated, 253-56. 
Davis, Jefferson, pretended brother, 253-56. 
Dawson, "Cheyenne," scared by Indians, 28-30; hunts 

oxen, 46. 
Deer, emigrants kill, 6^. 
Deer Creek, miners pass, 199; conflagration begins on, 

Deer Creek Water Company, operations of, 203. 
De Smet, Rev. Pierre Jean, career sketched, 24; 

characterized, 25-26; emigrants separate from, 38. 
Dickey, William, first owner of Rancho Chico., xiii. 

Digg, , trading post visited, 104. 

Digger Indians, origin of name, 315-16. 
Dinkier, Fred, employs Steele, 140; rascality of, 145-48. 
Dobin, Jeremiah, experience with snake, 288-89. 
Donnelley, John, member of overland party, 119; mess 

disbanded, 121; illness, 144, I49; expedition to 

Feather River, 151-202; departure for Klamath 

mines, 204; American River enterprise, 206, 213-24; 

Steele visits, 231. 
Donner Lake, emigrants camp near, 87. 

Dougherty, , rancher, 70. 

Downie's Diggings, miners visit, 161, 162. 

Downieville, mining camp, 154, 156. 

Downing's Ravine, Steele returns to cabin, 249, 313; 

operations at, 232-33, 308; Steele winters at, 279; 

religious service, 306-308. 



Dowson, Thomas, member of overland party, 120. 

Dutch Creek, miners pass, 280. 

Dutch Flat, experience on, narrated, 280-81. 

Earthquake, at Virgin Bay, described, 341-42. 

East Walton (N. Y.), Steele's visit narrated, 352-53. 

England, designs on California, 100. 

Fallon, Tom, relates gold discovery, 104. 

Farley, Drury, member of overland party, 119; Yuba 
River enterprise, 142-44; friend ill, 144-45, 150; 
Poorman's Creek enterprise, 199; Klamath mines 
enterprise, 204; visits brother, 205; American River 
enterprise, 206, 213-24. 

Farnham, Thomas J., western expedition of, 16-20. 

Feather River, gold discovered, 109; mining company 
organized, 144; Steele's venture on, 151-202. 

Ferguson, Rev. Samuel D., conducts academy, 352-54. 

Ferguson, Sanford I., conducts academy, 352-54. 

Fergusonville (N. Y.), Steele visits relatives, 352-54. 

Fevers, rarity of in California, 14. 

Finney, Thomas, partner in Texas Bar enterprise, 268, 

FitzpatrickjCapt. Thomas, Rocky Mountain trader, 24; 
knowledge of Indians, 27; averts panic, 28-29; dis- 
covery of South Pass, 34; emigrants separate from, 

Flathead Indians, Father De Smet as missionary to, 

Fleas, afflict miners, 275. 

Forbes, Alexander, organizes mining company, no. 

Ford, John, companion of Steele, 251-58. 

Ford, Rebecca, wife of Steele, xvii. 

Fort Bodega, Sutter buys, 77; dismantles, 77-80. 

Fort Hall, sites identified, 37. 

Fort Laramie, emigrants pass, 27. 

Fort Ross, Sutter buys, 77; dismantles, 77-80. 

Fort Vancouver, Hudson's Bay Company post, 37. 

France, designs on California, 100. 


Fremont, John C, leads Bear Flag revolt, xiii; explores 

Great Salt Lake, i6; names Humboldt River, 51; 

first visit to California, 104-105. 
Fruit, at California missions, 84. 
Frye, Amos E., abandons emigrant train, 38. 
Gambling, among miners, 131-32, 188-89, ^3<^3Ij 

268-73, 3^1' houses promote lawlessness, 200. 
Gila River, trail to California via, 13. 
Gilroy, origin of name, 88. 
Gold, discovery of in California, 95-1 ii; miners 

gamble, 131-32, 188-89, 200-202, 23(^31, 268-73, 

311; sickness among, 151; sluice washing described, 

203-204; rocker, 214-15; mining regulations 

adopted, 217-18; hazards of mining, 220-24; 

operations at Snyder's Bar, 229-33; at Texas Bar, 

268-82; feud at Spanish Flat, 264-67; generosity of 

miners, 284-85. 
Graham, Isaac, excites hostility of Spanish authorities, 

Grain, harvesting on Sutter's ranch described, 82-83. 
Grant, Capt. James, commands Fort Hall, 39. 
Grass Valley, miners visit, 198. 
Gray, Asa, friend of Bidwell, xiv. 
Gray, John, parleys with Indians, 29; hunts buffaloes, 

30; seeks trappers, 35. 
Great Salt Lake, ignorance concerning, 15-16; route of 

emigrants via, 27, 38, 42-44. 
Green River, emigrants cross, 27, 35-36. 
Greybacks, visitation described, 213. 
Greytown, visit of Steele to, 346-47; bombarded, 

Grizzly bears, emigrants fear, 40-41; Steele endangered, 

Grove, , Georgia slaveholder, 261-63; feud over 

ownership of mine, 264-67. 
Gutierrez, Pablo, discovers gold, 97-99, 102; hanged, 


Hall, William, murdered, 290. 

Hamilton, Prof., narrates story of Dr. Y , 310-13. 

Ham's Fork, route of emigrants via, 27. 
Hanford, James, friend of Steele, 253. 
Hanford, William S., friend of Steele, 253. 
Hangtown, origin of name, 268; crimes of violence at, 

Hanna, Adolphus, befriends miners, 205. 
Harney, Gen. Wm. S., establishes Vancouver Barracks 

Hastings, , first lawyer in California, 92; plans 

republic, 93; anecdote, 93-94. 

Hayes, Jim, employed by Steele, 127; poisoned, 128. 

Hooker, Sir Joseph, friend of Bidwell, xiv. 

Hooper, , Boston merchant, 89. 

Horses, Americans steal, 19; Indians steal, 62. 

Horse Thief Indians, raid Californians, 62, 70; im- 
prisoned, 72-73. 

Hotchkiss, General, explains liquor regulations, 303. 

Hudson's Bay Company, trappers in California, 18; 
maintains Fort Vancouver, 37; post visited, 49; 
trapper discovers gold, 95. 

Hughes, Abraham, member of overland party, 119; 
mess disbanded, 121. 

Hughes, Isaiah J., member of overland party, 119; 
mess disbanded, 121. 

Humboldt Mountains, emigrants traverse, 53. 

Humboldt River, route of emigrants via, 51-56. 

Hunt, Thomas, member of overland party, 119; reports 
death of Anderson Tade, 150; Poorman's Creek 
enterprise, 199-200; Klamath enterprise, 204; visits 
brother, 205; American River enterprise, 206, 213-24. 

Huntsville, Bidwell visits, 7. 

Hurricane, described, 350-51. 

Indians, scare emigrant, 28-30; emigrants fear, 28, 41; 
hunting habits, 30; attack trappers, 35; encountered 
49, 57, 61, 64, 169-72, 174-76, 178-82; example of 



honesty among, 53; steal horses, 62, 70; employed 
by John A. Sutter, 81-83; talk Spanish, 249; small- 
pox visitation, 249-51, 259; as swimmers, 275-76; 
as miners, 286; tragedy of Thomas narrated, 293- 
305, 323-26; council described, 313-20; debauched 
by liquor, 302-305, 324-26. See also the several 

Independence Rock, emigrants pass, 27. 

Independence Landing, Bidwell visits, 21. 

Ingrahm, Lieutenant, bombards Greytown, 348-49. 

Iowa City, becomes capital of Iowa, 7; State Capitol 
Building at, 7. 

Iowa County (Wis.), residence of gold seekers, 119. 

Irving, Washington, edits Captain Bonneville's narra- 
tive, 66. 

Jackrabbits, habitat, 43. 

Jackson, attempted lynching at, 254-56. 

Jackson County (Mo.), Bidwell visits, 20-21. 

Jefferson, mining camp, I43. 

Jennings, , proprietor of Sacramento, 205. 

Jimines, , relative of Jesus Chico, 241-42.. 

Joaquin, , Mexican desperado, 256-58; crimes of 

band, 291. 

Johns, James, adventure narrated, 39-42; exploit in 
Sierra Nevada Mountains, 58-60; at Sutter's Fort, 

Jones, Anson, employs Steele, 124-27. 
Jordan, David Starr, friend of Bidwell, xiv. 
Kanaka Bar, origin of name, 229. 
Kansas City, old name of, 21, 26. 
Kelsey, residence of Peg Leg Smith, 276. 
Kelsey, Benjamin, perseveres in Cahfornia project, 38; 

leads emigrants, 58. 
Kelsey Canon, Indians kill white man, 235; mining 

operations, 287. 
Kennedy, Annie, wife of Bidwell, xiv. 
Keytesville (Mo.), Bidwell visits, 8. 


King, James, murdered, 331; consequences of, 332. 

Kingsbury, William, member of overland party, 120. 

Klamath, visit to mines planned, 200-201; departure 
for, 204; project abandoned, 212-13. 

Land, claim jumped, 12, 264-67. 

Lantern flies, as feminine adornments, 340. 

Larkin, Thomas O., California career, 89, 91. 

Lawson, , mining camp visited, 184-85. 

Lawyers, scarcity of in California, 92. 

Lee County (Iowa), residence of gold seekers, 119. 

Lee, Jason, missionary work, 17. 

Liberty (Mo.), T. J. Farnham's letter published at, 20. 

Liquor, drinking, by miners, 131-34, 192-97, 230-31; 
by Spanish, 247; by Indians, 295-304, 319-20, 
324-26; on ocean steamship, 335-37; tragedy of 
Dr. Y , 310-13. 

Livermore, Robert, ranch of 69-70. 

Livermore Valley, origin of name, 69. 

Lodi (Wis.), residence of Steele, xviii. 

Long Wharf, Sir Charles Napier arrives, 209. 

Los Angeles, oranges raised, 14; Steele makes excursion 
to, 236-49. 

Los Angeles County (Cal.), gold discovered in, 95. 

Lucas, Robert, Governor of Iowa Territory, 7. 

Lupton's Fort, as trading post, 27. 

Lynching, attempted, 254-56; feared, 258; at Hang- 
town, 268-69; ^^ D^- Y , 312. 

Mack., , employed by Steele, 128. 

McCord, Robert, member of overland party, 119; mess 
disbanded, 121; Yuba River enterprise, 142-44, 149; 
Poorman's Creek enterprise, 199-200; Klamath 
enterprise, 204; American River enterprise, 2c6, 
213-24; illness, 226-27, 229; Steele visits, 231. 

McDonald, , anecdote of, 93-94. 

McFarland, Garret, death, 211; characterized, 211-12. 

McGee, , on Feather River expedition, 153, 159. 

McLoughlin, Dr. John, builds Fort Vancouver, 37. 



Marsh, Dr. , gives information on California, 15; 

emigrants reach ranch, 64-67; relations with, 67- 

Marshall, James W., discovers gold, 97, 106-109, 228. 
Martinez, Steele visits, 248. 
Matlock, George, member of overland party, 119; mess 

disbanded, 121; death, 145. 

Matthews, , foreman of mining company, 216. 

Meagher, Thomas F., Van Diemen's Land exile, 335. 

Measles, epidemic among miners, 284. 

Meeks, Joe, career as physician, 90-92. 

Mengarini, Rev. Gregory, career sketched, 25. 

Mexico, outbreak of revolution, 334. 

Micheltorena, Manuel, Governor, relations with Sutter, 

79; drives ambulance, 86; employs Joe Meeks, 90; 

insurrection against, 99-102. 
Mirage, deceives emigrants, 43, 47-48. 
Missions, fruit-raising at, in California, 84; entertain 

travelers, 84-85. 
Missionaries, Jason Lee's work, 17; Catholic, to Flat- 
head Indians, 23; preaching to miners, 306-308. 
Missouri, journey of Bidwell to, 7-10; origin of Platte 

Purchase, 8; described, 8-12; CaUfornia emigrants 

leave, 21. 
Missouri Compromise, infringed, 8-9. 
Missouri River, voyage of Bidwell on, 11-12. 
Mohave Desert, route via, 18. 
Mokelumne Hill, feud between American and Spanish 

elements, 251-52. 
Mokelumne River, Steele visits, 251. 
Monkeys, as article of food, 340-41. 
Monterey, healthfulness of climate, 14; experiences of 

T. J. Farnham at, 17-19; residence of Thomas O. 

Larkin, 89, 91. 
Mormons, discover gold, 109. 
Mormon Island, mining operations, 206, 213-24; Steele 

visits, 229, 231. 


Mount Diablo, emigrants pass, 64; ranch of Dr. 

Marsh near, 67; viewed by miners, 236. 
Mount Shasta, viewed by miners, 177. 
Mount Vernon (Mo.), residence of Steele, xvii, 
Muir, John, friend of Bidwell, xiv. 
Mules, Canadian trappers drive, 26. 
Murders, discovered, 155-56; of negro barber, 254-55; 

at Placerville, 268-73; of Steele, attempted, 282-84; 

miners murdered, 290-91; Columbia Indian, 298- 

99; in San Francisco, ^S^- 

Murphy, , share in mine feud, 265-67. 

Neal, Robert, story narrated, 312-13. 
Nelson's Creek, miners pass, 163, 189. 
Nevada City, Steele arrives at, xvi, 119-20; saloons of, 

131; shooting affrays, 132-34; lawlessness, 200; 

burned, 201-202. 
New Helvetia, name for Sutter's Fort, 106. 
New Mexico, habits of gold miners, 95-96, 103. 
Nicaragua, dispute with United States, 347-49. 
Northern Light ^ Steele embarks on, 347; voyage to New 

York described, 350-52. 
Nye, M. C, reports arrest of emigrants, 71; accom- 
panies Bidwell, 72. 
OcHOA, travelers pass, 346. 

O'Donohue, , Van Dlemen's Land exile, 335. 

O'Fallon's Bluffs, emigrants pass, 32. 

Ogden, Ed, sells claim, 127. 

Ollendorff, Spanish text book, 248. 

Ometepe Island, travelers pass, 344. 

Onion Valley, sojourn at mining camp described, 189- 

Oranges, in California, 14. 

Oregon, American conquest planned, 17; California 
emigrants diverted to, 38. 

Oregon Trail, as route of emigrants, 26; course in- 
dicated, 36-37. 

Overton, Bill, lucubrations of, 36. 

Oxen, join buffaloes, 32; difficulty of packing, 45; 

search for, 46-48; eaten, 53-56, 60. 
Packsaddles, difficulties of emigrants with, 45-46. 
Pah Ute Indians, as miners, 184; warfare narrated, 

234-35; council described, 314-22. See also 

Panama, gold seekers stranded at, 210. 
Panama, Isthmus of, route to California via, 210. 
Peoria, Oregon emigration company organized, 17. 

Peyton, , abandons emigrant train, 38. 

Physicians, scarcity of in California, 67, 90-92. 

Phillips, , Cahfornia experiences narrated, 134-37. 

Pierce, Harrison, runaway sailor, 88. 

Pinonero, habits described, 233-34. 

Pioneer claims, operations described, 216-24. 

Placer Caiion, miner murdered, 270. 

Placerville, Indian village near, 234; crimes of violence, 

Platte Purchase, Bidwell resides in, xi; described, 8-12. 
Platte River, route of emigrants via, 26. 
Pocatello, Fort Hall near, 37. 
Point, Rev. Nicolas, career sketched, 25. 
Polygamy, practiced by Indians, 321. 
Poorman's Creek, mining activities on, 161-63, 199. 
Portneuf River, Fort Hall located on, 37. 
Post office, at Sacramento, described, 205; 207-208; 

at Coloma, 305. 
Prairie chickens, in Iowa Territory, 7. 
Prattsville (N. Y.), Steele visits relatives, 352. 
Prohibition Party, nominates Bidwell for Presidency, 

Pruden, Victor, issues passport, 73. 
Puma, tracks seen, 164. 
Rancho Chico, homie of Bidwell, xiii-xv. 
Red River carts, Canadian trappers drive, 26. 
Religion, of Pah Ute Indians, 322; service for miners, 



Robidoux, Joseph, founder of St. Joseph, 13; advice on 
California, 13-14. 

Robinson, B. H., uncle of Steele, 326-27; family- 
visited, 352. 

Rock Creek, Indians fight battle, 234-35. 

Rocky Mountain Fur Company, partners in, 34. 

Rodgers, , abandons emigrant train, 38. 

Roger Williams' Spring, at Nevada City, 122, 128. 

Rolling Hills, encounter of Steele and Jesus Chico 
224-25, 237. 

Romaine, , English adventurer, 25. 

Ruelle, Baptiste, discovers gold, 95; project for further 
discovery, 96-97. 

Russian-American Fur Company, sells property in 
California, 77. 

Rutherford, Walter, death, 211. 

Sacramento, on site of Sutter's Fort, 60; city founded, 
105; Steele visits, 205-209, 212-13; operations of 
post office, 205, 207-208. 

Sacramento Valley, James John reaches, 59; viewed by 
miners, 204-205. 

Sagebrush, emigrants encounter, 43. 

Sailors, runaway, in California, 19, 88-89. 

St. Charles, residence of William L. Sublette, 34. 

St. Joseph, founded by Robidoux, 13. 

St. Louis, Bidwell visits, 11-12. 

Saloons, of Nevada City, 131; shooting affrays, 132-34; 
promote lawlessness, 200, 268-73, 311-12. 

Salt Lake, see Great Salt Lake. 

Sahnas River, route via, 241, 243. 

San Andres, Steele visits, 251; experience narrated, 

San Bias, T. J. Farnham visits, 17; Americans im- 
prisoned, 19. 

San Carlos, fort, described, 344-45. 

San Carlos River, travelers pass, 346. 

Sandhill cranes, emigrants kill, 63. 

San Diego, center for trade in hides, 89, 

Sandwich Islands, visit of John A. Sutter, 76. 

San Francisco, ships deserted in harbor, 209; story of 

Vigilante regime, 330-34. 
San Gabriel Mission, oranges raised, 14. 
San Joaquin River, emigrants pass, 64; winter on, 69. 
San Joaquin Valley, emigrants reach, 62-63; first 

settlement in, 66-67. 
San Jose (Pueblo de San Jose), emigrants visit, 69; 

imprisoned, 71; released, 72. 
San Jose Mission, emigrants arrested at, 71. 
San Juan del Norte, see Greytown. 
San Juan del Sur, Steele visits, 337-38. 
San Juan River, descent of, 344-46. 
Santa Anna, General, precipitates revolution in 

Mexico, 334, 337. 
Santa Fe, trade from Missouri to, 13; John A. Sutter 

visits, 76. 
Sapling Grove, as rendezvous, 15, 21-22. 
Schallenberger, Moses, salvages wagons, 86-87. 
Schools, Bidwell teaches, 10-13. 
Scott, George, succumbs to strong drink, 230-31. 
Scott's Bluffs, emigrants pass, 27, 23- 
Sequoia gigantea^ Bidwell discovers, 61. 

Sexton, , nurses Steele, 130. 

Shimmans, William E., member of overland party, 119; 

Klamath enterprise, 200, 207. 
Shoshone Indians, friendship for whites, 53. 
Sierra Nevada^ Steele embarks on, 327-28. 
Sierra Nevada Mountains, emigrants cross, 56-62; 

first crossing by Americans, 66. 

Simpson, , abandons emigrant train, 38. 

Sir Charles Napier^ carries gold seekers to California, 

Sitka, visit of John A. Sutter, 76. 
Slaves, negro, in mines, 260-63. 
Slavery, dispute over Platte Purchase, 8-9. 


Smith, Jedediah S., discovers South Pass, 34. 

Smith, Peg Leg, story of, 276-77. 

Snakes, in Platte Purchase, lo-ii; in miners' cabins, 

Snake River, emigrant route via, 37. 
Snow, depth of fall, 197-98. 
Snyder's Bar, mining enterprise on, 129-32. 
Soda Springs, emigrants pass, 27; party separates, 

Soper, P. O., mining experiences narrated, 278-84, 287; 

fears violence, 289; farewell interview, 326-27. 
South Pass, discovery of, 34. 
Spanish, friendly to Americans, 14; hospitality of, 83- 

85; Steele learns language, 238-40, 245, 248; 

Indians speak, 249; feud with Americans, 251-52, 

Spanish Flat, origin of name, 263-64; miners' feud, 

Stanislaus River, emigrants descend, 58-63; Steele 

visits, 251. 
Stark, Christopher R., teaming experience, 198. 
Starvation, experience described, 176-88. 
Steamboats, travel on western rivers, 6, 11-12. 
Steele, Edward D., writes letter, 227, 323; reunion with, 

Steele, Rev. John, career sketched, xv-xviii; arrival in 
California, 119-20; first employment in mines, 
121-27; poisoned, 128-31; sells claim, 131; danger 
from grizzly, 139-40; employment with Fred 
Dinkier, I40-42, 145-48; Yuba River enterprise, 
I42-44, I49-51; expedition to Feather River, 144, 
151-202; sluice washing, 203-204; visits Sacra- 
mento, 205-209; San Francisco, 209-12; Los Angeles, 
236-49; American River enterprise, 206, 213-24; 
illness, 217, 224; befriends Jesus Chico, 224-25; 
visits, 237-48; reunion with John Steele, uncle, 
227-28; partnership with, 228-33; terminated, 236; 


learns Spanish, 238-40, 245, 248; prescribes for 
smallpox, 249-51; adventure at Mokelumne Hill, 
251-54; with murderers, 253-58; gratitude of 
Indians, 259-60; in feud at Spanish Flat, 264-67; 
Texas Bar enterprise, 268-82; shooting affair nar- 
rated, 271-73; befriends P. O. Soper, 278-84; fears 
violence, 289-91; relations with Columbia Indians, 
293-304, visit to Coloma, 305-307; Antoine Carion 
enterprise, 308-13; attends Pah Ute Council, 314- 
22; returns to Wisconsin, 323-55. 

Steele, John, uncle of author, visits California, 227; 
partnership with nephew, 228-33; returns to 
Missouri, 236; commends Elijah Barker, 260. 

Steele, Loretta, writes letter, 227. 

Steele, William, uncle of author, 227, 

Stevens, Elisha, salvages wagons, 86; gold discoveries 
of, 87-88. 

Stevenson, John, partner in Texas Bar enterprise, 268, 

Stokes, Dr. , encounter with Joe Meeks, 90-91. 

Sublette, William, career sketched, 34. 

Sugar Loaf Hill, miners camp near, 201. 

Sutter, John A., emigrants visit, 73-75; career of, 75-76: 
buys out Russians, 75-76; establishment of, 78-83 
relations with Spanish officials, 78-79, 100-102: 
liberality, 80; business operations, 80-83, 103, 106, 
107-109; refusal to outfit Ruelle, 96-97; sawmill 
visited, 228. See also Sutter's Fort. 

Sutter's Fort, James John reaches, 60; establishment 
described, 74-83; as center of colony, 105; Steele 
visits, 206. See also John A. Sutter. 

Sutterville, founded, 105-106. 

Sweetwater River, route of emigrants via, 27. 

T , Charles, rascality of, 277-79, 281-84, 289. 

T , Uriah, rascality of, 277-79, 281-84, 289. 

Tade, Anderson, member of overland party, 119; ill- 
ness, 144; death, 150. 


Taylor, William, missionary, 308. 

Tchubo, son of Capitan Juan, see Thomas. 

Texas Bar, operations at, 268-82. 

Terry, Judge , corruption of, 331. 

Thomas (Tchubo), son of Capitan Juan, story of, 293- 
305; 323-26. 

Tobacco, appetite of emigrants for, 52-53. 

Townsend, Dr. John, party brings wagons to California, 
86; reports gold discoveries, 87; on gold seeking 
expedition, 103. 

Trade wind, on American River, 218. 

Trappers, of Rocky Mountains, characterized, 18. 

Tribune^ New York, copy purchased, 305. 

Trinidad Bay, port for Klamath mines, 209, 212. 

Truckee Meadows, route of emigrants via, 55. 

Tule, described, 52. 

Union Valley, miners camp, 205. 

Vaccination-, taught to Indians, 250-51; halts small- 
pox epidemic, 259. 

Vallejo, General, arrests emigrants, 71; passport for 
Bidwell, 73. 

Van Benschoten, John, partner in Texas Bar enter- 
prise, 268, 273-80. 

Vancouver Barracks, established, 37. 

Van Diemen's Land, British rebels exiled to, 335. 

Virgin Bay, Steele's visit narrated, 339-44. 

Volcano, eruption experienced, 342, 344. 

Volcano (Cal.), Steele visits, 253. 

Wagons, first used in Rocky Mountains, 34; first 
brought to California, 86; emigrants abandon, 45. 

Wait, Burton, member of overland party, 120. 

Walker River, emigrants traverse, 56-57. 

Wallingford, , saloonkeeper, 283; sells liquor to 

Indians, 295-98, 303-304. 

Ward, George, expedition to Antoine Canon, 308-10. 

Ward, James, narrative of Feather Riv&r expedition, 


Ward, Thomas, rescues brother, 162. 

Washington, mining camp, I49-50. 

Water, scarcity of, 44, 46, 59. 

Weber Caiion, route via, 35. 

West Point, Sacramento River steamboat, 212. 

Westport (Westport Landing), name for Kansas City, 

21, 26. 
Western Emigration Society, organized, 14-15; project 

wrecked, 16-20. 

White, , proprietor of Sacramento, 205. 

Wild cat, emigrants eat, 60. 

IVilson G. Hunt, Sacramento River steamboat, 209. 

Wind River Mountains, emigrants view, 34. 

Wolves, in Iowa Territory, 7; follow miners, 165-66; 

encountered, 179. 
Wyeth, Nathaniel, establishes Fort Hall, 37. 
Y , Dr., prescribes for frozen man, 195; tragedy 

narrated, 310-13. 
Yankee Jim, miners visit camp, 310; tragedy of Dr. 

Y ,311-13- 

Young, John L., member of overland party, 119; mess 

disbanded, 121. 
Yuba Caps, miners pass, 160. 
Yuba River, Steele hunts gold on, 142-44; mining 

camps on, 149-52. 















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